تیم های مجازی خودجوش : بهبود عملکرد سازمانی از طریق فناوری اطلاعات و ارتباطات
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4651||2013||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Business Horizons, Volume 56, Issue 3, May–June 2013, Pages 361–375
This article aims to scrutinize an emerging and prominent type of work team in organizations: the spontaneous virtual team (SVT). Despite the promising benefits an SVT can provide, it is confronted with great challenges throughout its lifecycle. In this article, we first highlight the unique structure and characteristics of SVTs as compared to other conventional types of work teams. Furthermore, we decompose the lifecycle of an SVT into three stages. We then use interview data among SVT managers and participants across several industries to analyze the challenges, corresponding solutions, and the role of information and communication technologies in each of the three stages. Understanding the emerging SVTs will be of salient value to professionals and corporate executives who are interested in finding effective technology-enabled means and work patterns to improve organizational work performance. The current work can also serve as a basis for future academic research on exploring the SVT phenomenon.
A large web service company, ABC, encourages its employees to initiate and develop their individual ideas during office hours. Bearing in mind its vision of promoting grassroots innovation, the company has implemented a corporate social network system that facilitates employee interactions and is embedded with detailed employee profiles and expertise. A software engineer, Ben, initiated the idea of creating a software extension to the company's main service. To achieve his mission, Ben searched the company's social network system. From this extensive pool of geographically dispersed colleagues, Ben identified two individuals who matched the essential expertise he required for this particular project. Ben approached them and fortunately received very positive responses. Thus motivated, Ben formed a team and began a virtual work relationship. The three members communicated with each other mainly through video conferencing and online text messaging tools. They shared project codes and versions through the online server. Two weeks later, the extension was successfully developed and released for public use. Another large IT consulting company, XYZ, has a different management philosophy than ABC. XYZ's management exerts tight control over the company's projects. Although an online community is available at the corporate level, employee participation is minimal. Jack, an active employee, wanted to improve a particular service process within the company but had no idea who he could work with. A week after he had posted his plan and requirements on the company's online community, two colleagues from different departments expressed interest. Their self-reported expertise was apparently satisfactory. Jack accepted the two colleagues though he was unable to seek further verification of their expertise. Unlike Ben, Jack endured a negative collaboration experience with the two colleagues. During the collaboration, one member proved to be incompetent for the assigned tasks and failed to complete them on time. The other member, being preoccupied with his routine duties, failed either to respond promptly to emails or to be present at either their online or offline meetings. Frequently, the few discussions they did manage to hold were neither efficient nor effective. They failed to reach decisions promptly and progress was thus greatly hampered. After a month, Jack felt compelled to disband the team without completing the project. The two scenarios above illustrate an emergent type of work teams known as spontaneous virtual teams (SVTs). In an SVT setting, geographically and/or temporally dispersed team members assume responsibility for the initiation, formation, and management of a virtual team. Organizational managers, who often assume supervisory roles in conventional work team settings, exercise minimal intervention and control over SVT activities. With rapid changes in technology and the increasing demand for product and service innovation, many companies are surging embracing SVTs to foster innovation development, internal process optimization, and product improvements ( Bick, 2007, Cao, 2011, Mayer, 2006 and Siegler, 2010). Despite the huge potential that SVTs can provide, they are confronted with great challenges throughout their lifecycles. It is evident from the second scenario that Jack, despite being the team initiator, lacked sufficient organizational resources or legitimate power in comparison to a team leader in a conventional work team setting. Consequently, Jack encountered difficulties in both managing his team and enforcing task execution. To the best of our knowledge, the extant literature provides very few insights on SVTs. Given the significant differences between SVTs and conventional work teams, prior knowledge on ensuring the success of conventional work teams may not be applicable in an SVT context (Frese, Kring, Soose, & Zempel, 1996). Here, it is our objective to explore effective solutions for solving the challenges inherent in SVT management. Specifically, we aim to address the following key questions: • What is the unique structure of SVTs compared to other types of work teams in organizations? • When and under what conditions (e.g., organizational environment/task nature) are SVTs appropriate? • What are the unique characteristics and key challenges throughout the SVT lifecycle (from initiation to completion)? • What managerial and IT-related factors are critical for SVTs’ success? To enhance our understanding of these issues, we first describe the underlying structure and lifecycle of a typical SVT. Next, we conduct in-depth interviews among several early SVT adopters. We then use the responses from the interviewees to support our analyses of SVT functions and offer some valuable suggestions on how to resolve potential problems in an SVT lifecycle.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In today's fast-changing technology-enabled business world, problems and opportunities can present themselves suddenly. The SVT provides a vehicle to address these problems and opportunities rapidly with resources that transcend organizational boundaries. Based on our interviews with eight different companies, this article provides some critical insights into the challenges companies face in adopting SVTs as well as the possible solutions that could be deployed to ensure favorable outcomes when incorporating SVTs. Nevertheless, some issues are still present within the current SVT content, which set the stage for future research. Herein, we emphasize two areas that organizations should consider and take appropriate facilitative measures to address: staff training and managing outside contributors. 4.1. Training Training is a strategy often employed by organizations to enhance work team performance. Interestingly but not surprisingly, the organizations we interviewed did not have any specific training programs for SVTs. Therefore, future research should explore the feasibility of this typical managerial endeavor in the context of SVTs as well as appropriate forms of training. In fact, there are two major difficulties that organizations may encounter in designing a successful training program for SVTs. First, to the extent that SVT tasks are initiated by organizational employees, certain SVT outputs may not be expected or may not turn directly into organizational products. Second, SVT members are not restricted to a fixed group of people and are usually geographically dispersed. Hence, organizational managers may have difficulties regarding how much effort and resources should be devoted to SVT-related training, what particular types of training programs are suitable, and who is the right target of such training. The research findings in our interviews highlighted the importance of corporate-wide education to promote SVTs among both managers and ground-level employees. While IT-related training (e.g., utilizing technology platforms) is important, those related to enhancing employees’ managerial and communication skills could be more pressing. The majority of SVT members are from the grassroots level within an organization. Hence, they may lack experience in managing projects and resolving conflicts during decision making. Although organizations should be aware of the risk some SVTs having zero return, they should allocate resources to help members build necessary technical and managerial skills for successful SVT collaboration. In other words, during early SVT development, organizations should strive to better understand innovative working patterns and gradually take effective supporting measures to leverage their multiple benefits and huge potential. More research needs to be done to achieve a systematic understanding of SVT management and respective training issues. 4.2. Managing outsiders’ contributions One key benefit of SVTs is the ability to leverage geographically dispersed experts to tackle organizational problems. While it is possible to invite outside experts to join SVTs, organizations must be cautious about and effectively manage associated problems before being able to fully enjoying the benefits. The primary concern for inviting outsiders is the threat of security and privacy. With the possibility and convenience of offering outside experts access to organizational information and resources, confidential information, such as product design, source code, or trade secrets, may leak to other parties either intentionally or unintentionally. As formal contracts or agreements to manage outside experts’ behaviors may not always exist, different forms of technical and managerial measures should be considered to educate internal employees and minimize potential risks. For instance, organizations could closely monitor their network and only allow outside experts to work on certain network files. In addition, policies could be implemented to only assign non-sensitive tasks to outside experts. However, it is to be noted that tight security control and monitoring can seriously invade outside experts’ privacy and subsequently decrease their interest in joining and contributing to the SVT tasks. Thus, an appropriate balance between encouraging the extension of the existing organizational boundary and its effective management should be achieved through gradual explorations. To summarize, considering that SVTs are able to propel organizations into innovating and improving organizational performance, it is imperative that both organizations and individual employees are well prepared to embrace this emerging form of teamwork. As contemporary organizations gain experience with SVTs, they will be enabled to generate more powerful and unconventional innovations in the near future.