Unwrapping Ethics: Framing Effects Within the Construction of Team Ethics in Online Discourse at the Workplace

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Maria Cristina Gatti

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: framing; online discourse strategies; ethical behaviour; work-life blurred boundaries; effective teamwork; individual virtuousness; alignment

The present paper brings to the fore issues relating to the meaning and construction of ethics in online team communication by exploring the discursive strategies that contribute to the construction of a team’s sense of duty and individual virtuousness. The study relies on a complex toolkit which includes ethnolinguistics, sociolinguistics, discourse and conversation analysis. Data consist in a one-day interaction unit as part of a larger set of real communication exchanges (ca. 34,000) over a time period of six months, observation notes, as well as unstructured interviews. Our empirical analysis has revealed that individual virtuousness and sense of duty are actually interrelated. A virtuous team climate leads team members to share positive perceptions about the team, which in turn increases team commitment. Furthermore, we argue that the blurring of private and professional life not only allows for the enactment of ethic-driven discourse strategies that result in enhanced cooperation and improved team performance but also for high levels of interconnectivity and improved social interaction. The results of the analysis supplement organisational literature based on ethics-centred observations on the effectiveness of virtual work, and show how a discourse-driven approach can provide tools for further theorisations about the practices and the ecology of digital communication.


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