Influence of Anonymity on Group Process
From the case analysis, the anonymous group (Team B) tended to be very polite, and not go into great lengths in discussion compared to the identified groups (Team A and C). Moreover, in Team B, although two members were frustrated
with a member as revealed in the interviews, over CMC they did not express their feelings directly to the member, but said that they had a “nice” time working with each other, parting on cordial terms. Conversely the identified groups shared more personal information with others such as their personal experiences and feelings.
This indicates that there is less socio-emotional discussion in anonymous communication (p1). Anonymous communications help mask any status differences that could potentially be perceived by members in e-collaboration and depersonalizes the communication.
Figure 1. Process flow in virtual teams
+ Leader Emergence
The anonymous mode of communication is shown to be effective in encouraging more effort and participation in the virtual team by overcoming members’ inner restraints and evaluation apprehension (Valacich et al., 1992). Anonymity provides members with equal opportunities to express ideas by reducing the cues of social status and thus the fear of disapproval from other members. Research has shown that the reduction of social cues caused by computer-mediated communication encourages greater task-related discussion (Siegel et al., 1986). This is consistent with the findings from the cross-case analysis, i. e., there are more task-related acts compared to socioemotional acts in anonymous communication (p2).