Shared Artefacts and Virtual Worlds in Computer-Mediated Creative Collaboration

Pekka Alahuhta

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Virtual teams are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon within the globalizing surroundings of corporations. The communication between virtual team members is predominantly based on information and communication technology. The question, how different ICT collaboration environments can support different virtual team activities, has gained attention in research and practice. However, collaboration environments' role to foster creative virtual team collaboration is not entirely understood. This dissertation addresses the topic by focusing on the potential of artefacts and three-dimensional virtual worlds. Artefacts – shared visual representations – have been considered necessary for co-located creative collaboration. Though, the entire ecology of artefacts in distributed, computer-mediated creative collaboration has thus far remained unclear. While previous studies have suggested virtual worlds as beneficial for creative team collaboration, a systematic effort to characterize and describe this potential has not been undertaken. The four essays of this dissertation utilize real-life observational data of interaction between technical experts, decision-makers, and engineering designers. Either a web conferencing tool or a virtual world was employed as a collaboration environment during the observed interaction sessions. The first essay outlines virtual worlds' eight affordances towards creative team collaboration. The second essay investigates the question, how the two-dimensional web conferencing tool and virtual world differ in terms of supporting the use of shared visual artefacts. The third essay broadens the observation of the artefacts by studying their roles as boundary objects, which mediate communication within an intersection of different social worlds. Grounding on these results, the fourth essay addresses the artefacts' role in distributed teams' different collaborative activities within creative virtual world collaboration. Findings of the study demonstrate virtual worlds' potential to foster team creativity. Meanwhile the findings indicate a variety of artefacts that are utilized within creative virtual team collaboration, ranging from epistemic to technical objects. Grounding on the observed contrast between the virtual world and web conferencing tool, the results end up in suggesting an expansion of separated auditory and visual channel information to the concept of boundary objects. While the study conveys practical relevance for virtual teams that engage in creative collaboration, it also outlines potential directions to future ICT collaboration environments development path.
Translated title of the contributionShared Artefacts and Virtual Worlds in Computer-Mediated Creative Collaboration
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vartiainen, Matti, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6170-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6171-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • boundary objects
  • creative collaboration
  • distributed teams
  • epistemic objects
  • technical objects
  • virtual worlds


Dive into the research topics of 'Shared Artefacts and Virtual Worlds in Computer-Mediated Creative Collaboration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this