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Gamification in Virtual Organizations: Engaging with fun and play
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0501-2217
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

There is a multiplicity of factors that can explain the ever-growing adoption of virtual organizations in the current international workplace. These factors are interwoven in a way that feeds each other in an ebb and flow of the trends of virtualization.

Virtual teams, as groups that are geographically and organizationally dispersed, tend to feel alienated from the rest of the organization and team members. Organizations that used to depend on the synergies of team dynamics can no longer rely on the social aspects of work life. Accordingly, a new approach needs to be applied to effectively motivate teams that work in virtual environments. Managers must rely on a new set of tools and technologies to reach their teams. The rich and varied examples of applications of gamification techniques in various industries ask for further research the application of gamification within the framework of virtual organization management software.

Gamification is loosely defined as a process that incorporates game design elements in non-game contexts. Applied to virtual organization management software, there is a vast opportunity to provide game elements in the systems that not only engage the team members, but also crystallizes a sense of progress, helping the members create the habit of using the software regularly. In addition, gamification provides the tools for other members to motivate their team members, or even applying automatized features where human-computer interaction (HCI) features motivate members automatically. This is particularly important, as it widens the sources from which an individual receives motivational inputs.

This study aims to explore the role of gamification and gamified software as an outlet to re-route motivating strategies for virtual environments, as well as the characteristics of motivation in such project configurations, and its contribution to enhance the organization´s outcomes.

The methodology follows a three-pronged. First, a in-depth literature review that lays out the major characteristics of gamification as a motivator, as well as the characteristics of virtual project management. Second, a qualitative study of gamified systems in real life virtual organization, with semi-structured interviews to a group of eight experienced virtual project managers. Third, a quantitative study of current software features aimed to manage virtual projects.

There is an undeniable theoretical benefit from applying gamification into virtual team management software. It would automatically lift some of the responsibility of motivating a team off the manager's shoulders, and redirect it to the software and the interactions of the team, making it a much more tight and engaged team. It offers the potential to generate the stimuli to amplify small wins generating engagement, user habit, and enhanced motivation.

This study shows the importance of motivation in new organizational settings as well as the special challenges that it poses when translated to virtual environments. It shows that managers can no longer rely on the traditional motivational strategies. It shows the lack of gamified features in the current software for manage virtual projects. Finally, the study explores the possibilities of gamification as an approach to bridge the gap of motivation within project software. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Gamification, Motivation, Engagement, Virtual Organizations, Project Management, Virtual Teams, Virtual Management Software
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies; Information Systems; Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33293OAI: diva2:735772
32nd Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS), 7-10 July, University of Utrecht
Available from: 2014-07-31 Created: 2014-07-31 Last updated: 2014-08-11Bibliographically approved

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Ferrer Conill, Raul
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