Exploring Creativity in Temporary Virtual Teams: The Case of Engineering Design

Petros Chamakiotis

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The prevalence of Virtual Team (VT) configurations in organizations has come to challenge the relevance of traditional management practices based on traditional, physically collocated teams. Creativity—a topical and multidisciplinary issue—has been under-researched within the context of virtuality. Predicated on the premise that creativity may be expressed differently in the context of VTs, I draw the conceptual foundations for this research from the fields of virtuality (i.e. VTs) and creativity, and use engineering design as the empirical context, with the aim of pursuing a better understanding of creativity in relationship with virtuality in the context of Virtual Design Teams (VDTs). Design constitutes a pertinent empirical context because (a) designers have to deliver outputs requiring creativity; and (b) their work is increasingly accomplished in VDT environments.

I report on the findings from three case studies involving temporary VDTs. Studies 1 and 2 comprised student engineers. Study 3 was a comparative case study focusing on a team of professional engineers, who completed one design task while physically collocated (face-to-face, F2F) and another one while geographically dispersed (virtually), with the aim of isolating factors that are unique to virtuality. With an interpretive stance guiding this research, the same analytical approach for each case study, and with the team serving as the unit of analysis, I analysed the collected data (interview data, observations, video recordings, photographic material, documents, communication extracts, design and other outputs) qualitatively with the use of visual and thematic analysis.

The thesis makes the following theoretical contributions: (a) it advances understanding of creativity within the VDT lifecycle; (b) it elicits factors influencing creativity in the temporary VDT context; and (c) it explains how the unique characteristics of virtuality influence creativity within this context. The thesis’ limitations as well as implications for research and practice are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
  • Dekoninck, Elies, Supervisor, External person
  • Panteli, Niki, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date4 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • virtual teams
  • virtual design teams
  • creativity
  • idea generation
  • team creativity
  • collaborative design

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