Some Assembly Required

The most important and complex decisions in society are made in teams. And yet, assembling effective teams is a daunting task. While there is an awareness of how team collaborations can spearhead socio-economic change we still have sparse socio-technical knowledge of how globally distributed cross-cultural teams and systems of teams are assembled. This project seeks to address this limitation. We develop a theoretical and computational framework to understand and enable the socio-technical dynamics shaping the assembly of teams in distributed global contexts.

The main barrier to understanding and explaining the role of human centered computing in team assembly is finding a suitable research environment where:
(i) geographically distributed individuals from potentially different cultures are assembling in teams of varying sizes to accomplish a variety of tasks over varying durations;
(ii) their actions, interactions and transactions are captured with precise time-stamps; and
(iii) their outcomes would be recorded with well-defined metrics. Massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) offer a research environment that meets all of these requirements. EVE Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, offers a potentially suitable research opportunity to study the assembly of teams and ecosystems of team. In this high-risk high-payoff project we explore the feasibility of using data from EVE Online to identify the socio-technical and cultural mechanisms that explain the assembly of teams. If successful, the study will serve as a model for larger scale studies that, in addition to identifying the assembly mechanisms also assess the impact of these mechanisms on the performance of global teams. This high risk project, if successful, will also make contributions to the increasingly prevalent social phenomenon of online games.

NSF IIS-1249137