Towards Understanding Virtual Collaboration with Virtual Assistants in Organizational Environments
Collaboration is critical for enterprises to create value. Technological advancements have increasingly shifted traditional workspaces to virtual worlds in which employees collaborate. Recent research on computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) has thus involved understanding how technologies, such as virtual assistants (VAs), are capable of supporting collaboration within virtual surroundings. Many enterprises have introduced VAs as work facilitators that assist employees in executing tasks to generate additional revenue and gain competitive advantage. Due to their ability to simulate human-like interactions via natural language and social cues, VAs are inherently anthropomorphic. The computers are social actors paradigm (CASA) explains that individuals exhibit social responses when interacting with technology. However, while extant research has indicated that human-like features allow VAs to be perceived as legitimate team members, less is known about VAs’ influence on virtual collaboration within organizations or about the extent to which humans are engaged in social responses. This paper-based dissertation considers various theoretical aspects of VAs’ application in virtual collaboration, such as the formation of an identity, extension of the individual self, impact on mental capacities, and attribution of responsibility. The results reveal potential (i.e., relieving individuals from certain burdens) and challenges (i.e., failing to solve problems individually) as well as highlight the blurring boundaries between human and human-like actors. This work extends the information systems (IS) literature by providing a novel perspective and guidance for gaining a deeper understanding towards understanding virtual collaboration with VAs in organizational environments.