Understanding the Affective Layer of Online Collaboration: Toward a Media Affectivity Theory

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As workplaces increasingly rely on digital media to conduct business, teams are developing new habits and processes to ensure continued performance. However, the recent shift toward online and hybrid collaboration highlighted the important, yet often overlooked, implications of affective processes for online collaboration. Not only do aligned affective states across team members increase this team’s ability to develop cognitive alignment, but they also create a sense of connection and belonging that is essential to effective, sustainable, and fulfilling teamwork. In this article, we conduct an extensive review of the literature on affective alignment and media capabilities. Based on this review, we propose a synthesis model of affective alignment in online collaboration that outlines the mechanisms that enable and constrain the emergence of aligned affective states between the participants of an online collaborative task. We then develop a theory of media affectivity, which posits that a digital medium’s enabling and constraining capabilities to support affective processes strongly influence the emergence of affective alignment in online teams. Taken together, the model of affective alignment in online collaboration and the theory of media affectivity can be used by researchers interested in understanding the unfolding of communicative failure and community breakdown in organizations. Moreover, the new theory of media affectivity has implications for critical and related areas of research and practice, such as workers’ social and mental well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-third Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonja Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication dateAug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2023: Putting the Worker Front and Center - Boston, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20238 Aug 2023
Conference number: 83


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings

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