We develop and test a model that anticipates detrimental performance effects in within-office distributed teams (i.e., teams based out of the same office that conduct work at different geographic locations). This setting offers a clean test of theory around distributed work because it eliminates confounding factors such as differences in culture and language. Using an experiential questionnaire we find that greater distribution is negatively associated with team communication (quality, ease, and spontaneity) and auditors' sense of shared context (access to the same information, mutual understanding, and common norms), which are in turn negatively associated with engagement performance (efficiency, commitment to excellence, overall work quality, adhering to the budget, and the team's innovative approach). Further, we find an indirect effect between distribution and performance through communication and shared context when accountability is lower, but not higher, implying that accountability interventions have the potential to aid performance quality in distributed teams.
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