Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 27 Number 1 2010 pp. 203-230

Team Size, Dispersion, and Social Loafing in Technology-Supported Teams: A Perspective on the Theory of Moral Disengagement

Alnuaimi, Omar A, Robert Jr, Lionel P, and Maruping, Likoebe M

ABSTRACT: The article reports the results of a study which investigated social loafing in a team setting. The study involved 32 teams of students assigned to brainstorming tasks using group systems software. Cognitive mechanisms derived from moral disengagement theory were tested as possible drivers of social loafing behavior. These included attribution of blame, diffusion of responsibility, and dehumanization. All of these correlated with the effect of team size on social loafing, but only dehumanization was found to mediate the effect of dispersion.

Key words and phrases: computer-mediated communication (CMC), creativity, electronic brainstorming, idea generation, individuals in teams, social loafing, team performance, team productivity, technology-mediated collaborative environments, technology-supported team efficacy, theory of moral disengagement, virtual collaboration, virtual teams