Team coordination in uncertain environments: The role of processual communication networks

Andrew Pilny, Melissa Dobosh, Alex Yahja, Marshall Scott Poole, Aaron Campbell, Luisa Ruge-Jones, Jeff Proulx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The ways in which teams coordinate are critical to navigating today's turbulent environment. Communication networks have been theorized to be a key factor for accomplishing team coordination. However, empirical research has largely taken a static approach by viewing communication networks as material, structural arrangements, which we call structural communication networks (SCNs). Informed by network structuration theory, we articulate a complementary approach, called processual communication networks (PCNs), which views communication networks as episodic, dynamic, and sequential. To test this, we conducted a multi-team experiment of 62 teams embedded in a virtual world where their primary Objective: was to coordinate an attack on a group of insurgents. Using relational event modeling to capture the dynamics of PCNs, we hypothesized and found support for the role of PCNs as a mediator of SCNs and an indicator of structural appropriation. Moreover, highly decentralized PCNs positively predicted coordination, regardless of whether they were faithfully or ironically appropriated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-411
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Coordination
  • Networks
  • Structuration
  • Teams
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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