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LETU Professor Beverly Rowe Writes New Book on Virtual Teams


Beverly Rowe, an associate professor of accounting at LeTourneau University, has published her first book, titled "How Virtual Teams Work: Exploring Effort in Computer-Mediated Collaboration." The book sells on Amazon.com for $69.

In the book, Rowe researches how virtual teams work together to solve accounting questions through electronic communication in day-to-day business. Her study also gives insight into the development of hybrid-learning courses in accounting.

Rowe's book is the culmination of two years' work investigating management information theory, education theory, accounting theory and small group interactions. She brings four separate fields of thought together to consider how connecting decision-makers electronically can be accomplished more efficiently and result in more effective decisions, particularly when the communication involves financial decision-making.

"The most compelling finding is that the quality of the work depends on how the group communicates as well as the type of worker participating in the communication," Rowe said. "If groups are made up of high performers, meeting as a virtual team makes little difference in the effort put into the work or the quality of the decision. The high performing workers simply overcome the hindrances of electronic communication and produce as well as if they were working face-to-face."

Rowe's research found, however, that low performers find the limitations of electronic communication to be obstacles to both the level of effort put toward the task at hand and to the quality of output generated in the decision-making process.

"Attempting to aid the communication process by creating greater structure, the most common remedy used in online decision-making, only makes the drop in quality greater," Rowe said. " Although it is contrary to current thought regarding electronic decision-making tasks, I found that the less structure applied, the better the outcome will be for virtual teams making financial decisions."

An editorial review of the book cited that Rowe's analysis should assist educators to develop hybrid-learning courses "through the effective use of virtual teams and computer-moderated collaboration."
Rowe has taught at LETU since the fall of 2006. She earned her doctor of philosophy degree in accounting from Texas A&M University in 2000, her Master of Science degree in management in 1994 from Purdue University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from the University of Houston in 1981. Her writing has appeared in professional journals including the Oil, Gas & Energy Quarterly, and she has presented professional papers at conferences including the Accounting Education and Research Forum. Rowe has taught at other colleges including Texas A&M University, Colorado State University and Ball State University.

In the past few years she coordinated a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service, United Way and LETU students to expand the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that provides a public service to elderly and low income community members. The program offers valuable mentoring and practical experience for LETU accounting students and resulted in more than $235,000 in tax refunds to local residents. She is also a faculty mentor for LETU's School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

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