Let’s take this offline: a thematic analysis of virtual conflict in hybrid collaborative design teams

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Flus, Meagan; Ferguson, Sharon; Olechowski, Alison
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Toronto
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 2435-2444
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.244


Conflict can be both a productive and detrimental reality of design collaboration. While most studies on conflict characterize findings by type (conflict about the task, process, or interpersonal relationships), we extend this typology to understand the causes, topics, and outcomes of conflict. To do so, we analyze communications in a virtual chat platform, collected in a hybrid work environment. A thematic analysis on over 6000 messages between student design teams on the enterprise communication platform Slack revealed three emergent conflict themes: Engineering Design, Project Management, and Communication. A mapping of the themes to a widely-cited typology of conflict found an over-representation of task (productive) and process (detrimental) conflict in the Engineering Design and Project Management themes, respectively. The distribution of types of conflict in the Communication theme is representative of the entire dataset, suggesting that communication can be a cause and outcome in all types of conflict. Overall, our classification of conflict is the first step towards describing triads of the causes, topics, and outcomes of conflict, a contribution which will drive the development of interventions for design team conflict.

Keywords: Teamwork, Communication, Collaborative design, Conflict, Hybrid Collaboration

Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Privacy Policy.