The Socio-Technical Virtual Organisation

The Socio-Technical Virtual Organisation

Rob Smith (Newcastle University, UK) and Rob Wilson (Newcastle University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-364-7.ch008
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Flexible and remote working is becoming more and more widespread. In particular, virtual team working is growing rapidly. Although virtual teams have attracted the attention of many researchers, until recently little investigation had been carried out specifically on what impact trust – a key element in favouring cooperation among team members – has on the performance of such teams. In the authors’ opinion Grid computing, through the collaborative nature of the technologies employed, provides an opportunity to build trust through the sharing of common resources and the enabling of rich communications.
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It has been remarked that there are as many definitions of “Virtual Organisation” as there are researchers in the field (Metselaar & Van Dael, 1999). In practice, these definitions tend to fall roughly onto a spectrum with an emphasis on the sharing of physical resources such as storage and processing power at one end and an emphasis on exploiting novel aggregations of knowledge, skills and capacity at the other. At the more ‘resource-oriented’ end of the spectrum, VOs are often characterised by relative stability; well-defined central or hierarchical management; well-defined access to resources across simple interfaces; easily-defined tasks; and a set of well-understood, well-communicated common goals (Foster, 2001). An example is an outsourced data processing facility, where data is securely shipped off-site for manipulation by third-party algorithms using grid technology because the client does not possess either appropriate algorithms or required processing power in-house. The problems and issues associated with these types of VO are largely technical, including:

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