An exploratory study of cohesion among co-located and virtual members of virtual, partially distributed groups
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This study provides insight into the factors of cohesion and its development in virtual, partially distributed groups. This qualitative exploratory research design examined how co-located and virtual group participants experienced cohesion. Participants were part of a doctoral cohort. Data was gathered using a demographic survey and individual interviews. Data analysis was accomplished through open, focused, and axial coding using constant comparison and inductive reasoning to identify categories. Findings indicate virtual and co-located participants expressed a sense of cohesion in both task and social areas. Factors of task cohesion include having a shared goal, a commitment to goal achievement and overcoming challenges. Factors of social cohesion include identification with group members, open communication, sharing personal life information and informal socializing which were all components of relationship building. Virtual participants were more focused on factors affecting individual task cohesion (commitment to goal) and individual social cohesion (identification with other members) than those impacting group cohesion. Practitioners should consider using a strengths assessment when forming a new group. They should also provide group dynamics resources and clearly defined group objectives.
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