Facoltà di scienze della comunicazione

Fostering teamwork and socialization in collaborative working environments : Insights from a situated study on a university research team

Meschitti, Viviana ; Carassa, Antonella (Dir.)

Thèse de doctorat : Università della Svizzera italiana, 2012 ; 2012COM005.

Collaborative practices in real groups are rarely studied as they develop in research teams, despite the importance of the topic. The present study aims to address this lack and is focused on how collaboration develops in an academic research team. It draws specific attention to group practices that enhance mutual engagement within the team and the socialization of doctoral students.... More

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    Summary
    Collaborative practices in real groups are rarely studied as they develop in research teams, despite the importance of the topic. The present study aims to address this lack and is focused on how collaboration develops in an academic research team. It draws specific attention to group practices that enhance mutual engagement within the team and the socialization of doctoral students. Situated learning theory and, more specifically, its concepts of community of practice and legitimate peripheral participation, provide for an inspiring framework. They will also guide the analytical process. The ethnographic approach permits this study to deeply understand the context in which communication and socialization practices are situated. Furthermore, it allows for the comprehension of how these processes change over time and the analysis of naturally-occurring interactions as they develop in a concrete setting. Studies of how mutual engagement and socialization unfold in everyday practices of a research team are very rare. Therefore, an original analytical framework has been built: a descriptive part focused on analyzing the team as a community of practice will then lead into an in-depth study of communicative interactions during meetings, following the approach of discourse analysis. Discourse analysis will rely on specific dimensions carefully chosen for studying mutual engagement. This analytical step permits for the discovery of specific practices underlining how meetings function, and will reconnect those practices to the team’s features. Results show that the team considered in this study resembles a community of practice with clear borders and a specific identity. It also revealed that the leadership style is vital in creating an environment where particular patterns of participation and specific discursive practices unfold among team members. Actually, there is a strong link between leadership and chairing style during team meetings, participation, discursive practices, and mutual engagement. Due to the specific structure of the team meetings, the participative practices enacted by the chief, and the mutual engagement developed within the team, meetings become strategic for doctoral students’ socialization. A conceptual framework is elaborated to explain the different team practices and how they are related to the development of mutual engagement and the socialization of doctoral students. The study constitutes an important contribution both for researchers who are interested in further analyzing the dynamics related to the development of team collaboration, and also for those who deal with team design. A conduction of studies, utilizing more cases, could help clarify the influence of scientific discipline and academic context.