Qualitative Orientation; Group/Team Processes; Organizational Behavior; Organizational Communication and Information Systems;
Despite well-accepted understanding that relational dynamics characterized by respect, openness and connectedness are critical for healthy team functioning, we know little about how to foster such dynamics. Drawing on observation and interview data from an intervention that fostered positive change in the relational dynamics of a global distributed team, this paper theorizes the mechanisms that enabled a move toward positive relational dynamics.The authors found that the intervention brought about relational changes by not only creating spaces where the team could experiment with new forms of interaction, but also by utilizing interaction scripts – concrete guidelines for interaction that specify content parameters and participation rules. They find that the combination of spaces and interaction scripts was critical for helping the team enact counter-normative forms of interpersonal sharing that led to the emergence of positive relational dynamics.While existing research has highlighted the importance of spaces for enabling positive relational change, this paper theorizes the complementary role that interaction scripts can play in the change process. These findings have implications for research on positive relationships at work, organizational change, and global and geographically dispersed teams.