A Meaningful Virtual Workplace: Understanding motivation in virtual work structures through interaction and meaningful relationships
Sammanfattning: Virtualization of employee interaction within organizations shapes the socialization that in turn forms meaningful relationships between employees. With a shift towards widespread virtual work structures, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the relevance of this phenomenon becomes increasingly apparent. By explicating how and why meaningful relationships are affected, we can also understand how individual well-being and organizational effectiveness, derived from these relationships, are impacted. On a theoretical plane, this thesis namely brings literature relating to Communities of Practice together with literature relating to Self-Determination Theory. By distilling findings within these areas, the resulting insights are combined into a theoretical framework that showcases the intertwined nature of socialization and relationships in a way that is applicable to the novel, widespread virtual work structures. This framework is then elaborated further through two case studies, focused on Swedish manufacturing companies. Findings from the conducted case studies both support and oppose the existence and influences of components within the theoretical framework. The first primary contribution of the thesis comes in the form of the resulting mapping of interrelated components, showcasing an initial but extensive illustration of how meaningful relationships are being affected in the virtual setting and why. The second primary contribution is derived from how both case studies indicate that strong relationships endure or even improve, while the remaining more casual relationships weaken and fade. Components identified in the developed framework seemingly act as barriers for interaction, causing this relationship development to occur, and consequently risk causing split identification within organizations.
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