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Vives, G.M. Blanqué, N. (2014). Virtual Experiences in Groups: @-factor, Screen Bridge Phenomena and “Onlined” Effect. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 14(1):39-52.

(2014). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 14(1):39-52

Virtual Experiences in Groups: @-factor, Screen Bridge Phenomena and “Onlined” Effect

Glòria Mateu i Vives, Ph.D. and Nerea Blanqué

This paper is the result of a reflection on the second Virtual Group Relations Conference that took place in the online platform Invision Power Board from 15 June to 28 July 2007. The emphasis of the conference was centred on experiential work that was going to explore those tacit or unconscious aspects that interact with the more tangible features of applied group behaviour, such as structures and work processes. The aim of the conference was to give the participants an opportunity for bringing into conscious awareness feelings, fantasies, and desires that drive their leadership and management practices in the virtual world.

The conference had different challenges to face:

1.   It was about following a new online methodology with a low reliability on its functionality; this was due to the fact that the basis of the containment, time territory, and task were different than those in face-to-face set up.

2.   The structure of the conference merged two historical diverted models, the Tavistock tradition (UK based) and the National Training Laboratory tradition (US based).

3.   The amount of anxiety created due to the unknown set up, use of new technologies, and unknown ways to interact.

The web platform Invision Power Board sponsored by ORGDYNE1 provided a contained scenario because it allowed for different chat rooms, and the possibility to have both asynchronous chats and synchronous set ups that made the time and territory boundaries easier to manage. Different group activities were adapted from both models. We will describe the difficult experiences mixing two historically different traditions.

During the conference, we noticed that studies which suggest that groups use language to communicate certain feelings face-to-face, were also taking place on the several post threads and during the live chat. Also the length of the chats to start with were larger than at the end, which implies more contention, not using the language as an evacuation, and more sensitive and truthful content.

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