The Impact of External Factors on Virtual Teams: Comparative Cases

The Impact of External Factors on Virtual Teams: Comparative Cases

Andrea Hornett (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2004 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-166-7.ch003
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Abstract

Practitioners and researchers need to pay attention to how corporate organizing structures are impacting and are impacted by virtual work environments. Virtual teams are powerful organizing mechanisms, but they are not without limitations. This chapter reports on two cases in which dynamics outside the virtual project teams powerfully affected the teams. These cases, both based on studies of real project teams operating inside corporations, highlight the desirability of understanding virtual teams in context. While external factors are not unique to teamwork, their role has not been explored in depth in research on virtual teams. Dynamic forces outside teams seem more difficult to anticipate and to identify when team members are working virtually, and these powerful but invisible dynamics can be frustrating to virtual team leaders and members. Concluded in this chapter is that contrary to initial expectations, virtual teams are not replacing traditional forms of organizing. They are coexisting with traditional forms and dynamics, such as business drivers, hierarchies, departments, strategic priorities, and business needs. This coexistence can be fraught with conflict.

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