Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pamela Kalbfleisch


It’s surprising that in the 50 years since computer networks were created, geographically distributed teams still face communication challenges. Businesses manage geographically distributed teams across the globe seemingly well, but in higher education, communication between geographically distributed teams on different campuses is a challenge. Faculty-administrators, staff and students are focused on their day-to-day tasks, and send e-mails and voicemails without giving much thought to how those messages are received on the other end. Often, the recipient of that communication reacts negatively, causing conflict.

This mixed-methods exploratory-sequential study qualitatively explored communication challenges, solutions, preferences, and feelings of connectedness and conflict among a small number of geographically distributed teams at one community-based medical school and measured quantitatively what communication preferences in certain scenarios might improve feelings of connectedness and avoid conflict among community-based medical schools across the United States.

In summary, social presence theory as well as conflict was found to be prevalent among the North Dakota community-based medical school but not necessarily in community-based medical schools across the United States.