Slacking With the Bot : Programmable Social Bot in Virtual Team Interaction

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Laitinen , K , Laaksonen , S-M & Koivula , M 2021 , ' Slacking With the Bot : Programmable Social Bot in Virtual Team Interaction ' , Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , vol. 26 , no. 6 , pp. 343–361 .

Title: Slacking With the Bot : Programmable Social Bot in Virtual Team Interaction
Author: Laitinen, Kaisa; Laaksonen, Salla-Maaria; Koivula, Minna
Contributor organization: Faculty Common Matters (Faculty of Social Sciences)
The Academic Outreach Network
Media and Communication Studies
Centre for Consumer Society Research
Date: 2021-11
Language: eng
Number of pages: 19
Belongs to series: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
ISSN: 1083-6101
Abstract: Nonhuman communicators are challenging the prevailing conceptualizations of technology-mediated team communication. Slackbot is a social bot that can be configured to respond to trigger words and, thus, take part in discussions on the platform. A set of 84 bot-related communication episodes were identified from a journalistic team's Slack messages (N=45,940) and analyzed utilizing both qualitative content analysis and interaction process analysis (IPA). This integrated mixed-methods analysis revealed novel insights into the micro-level dynamics of human-machine communication in organizational teams. In response to Slackbot's greetings, acclamations, work-related messages, and relational messages, we identified how the team members respond to the bot, discuss it, and summon it to appear on the platform. Further, the IPA revealed that the bot-related communication episodes are shaped by the bot's responses toward more socioemotional and personal functions. Findings suggest that a team-configured social bot can manifest and facilitate relational team communication. Lay Summary New communication technologies not only support but also take part in organizational team communication, challenging how we see the agency of these technologies. This paper examines Slackbot, a bot that "participates" in team discussions based on the use of triggering words that are configured by the team members. We used integrated mixed methods to study a set of Slackbot interactions with team members. Specifically, we examined how team members summon, interact with, and discuss the bot based on the bot's greetings, acclamations, relational comments, and work-related messages. We found that Slackbot changes the nature of the team interaction. The analysis showed that when the bot participates in the discussion thread, it becomes more relational and less task focused. These findings suggest that a social bot can facilitate relational communication and provide assets that support organizational teamwork.
Interaction Process Analysis
Organizational Communication
Qualitative Analysis
Social Bots
Team Communication
Virtual Teams
518 Media and communications
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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