Social Loafing in Technology-Supported Teams

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Computer Supported Cooperative Work


This study examines the occurrence of social loafing in technology-supported teams along with methods for diminishing loafing. A controlled laboratory experiment with a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial design is used. The independent variables – feedback, anonymity, and group size – are manipulated experimentally. It was expected that social loafing – a widely observed phenomenon – would indeed occur in technology supported teams. It was also expected that the traditional means of reducing social loafing (i.e., identifiability and feedback) within physical work environments would also have similar effects within technology-supported work environments. As expected, social loafing is found to occur in teams operating in a technology-driven realm. An unexpected finding is that social loafing is measurable only when participants are provided self-feedback. While other forms of feedback have a positive influence on productivity, they fail to reduce this phenomenon, and identifiability of group members is found to have no observable effect on social loafing.