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Virtual Team Management Essay

3560 words - 14 pages

IntroductionOrganizations are often searching for ways to have a competitive advantage over their competition. In a global environment this is illustrated by, "continually reshaping the organization to maximize strengths, address threats, and increase speed" (Duarte & Snyder, 1999, p.3). Recently this advantage has made inroads into the strategic operations process through the use of virtual teams.The rapid growth of knowledge, time-based competition, technology, and globalization has caused the business environment to no longer operate within the same parameters as it did in the past. Firms across the globe are constantly changing shape and structure to facilitate flexible working environments. They are also searching for the most efficient methods of operation. The use of the virtual teams is a relatively new tactic businesses are using to solve business related problems, and to perform organizational tasks.Definition of Virtual TeamConventional teams and teamwork have been used in business for years, but the virtual team adds a whole new dimension to meeting the challenges of the modern workplace. Conventional teams can roughly be defined as people located in the same geographical region working together through direct interaction. However, the virtual team can be defined as "groups of workers with unique skills, who often reside in different geographical places, and have to use for co-operation means of information and communication technology in order to span the boundaries of time and space" (Kirkman & Mathiew, 2004, p.). All teams are slightly different due to many factors therefore the virtual team can take on many definitions, roles, and forms. Another researcher defines virtual teams as a "group of geographically and/or organizationally dispersed coworkers that are assembled using a combination of telecommunications and informal technologies to accomplish an organizational task" (Townsend, 1998, p.). In short, basic characteristics of a virtual team are distance between members and reliance on technology to communicate.The structure of virtual teams varies across organizations and industries. Along with their common themes of reliance on technology, distance barriers, and uniform task assignments, they typically are divided into project teams, service teams or process teams. This helps the organization to better define its needs and provide support of collaboration between the participants (Edwards & Wilson, 2004). The structure helps to permit the coordination of specialized talents of employees not in the same location to have a continuous cycle of workflow and feedback throughout the sharing of information (Hawkrigg, 2007).As future business leaders, the difference between success and failure is exemplified by the method of management characteristics the organization uses to manage the virtual team process. It is important to understand the scope of the challenges faced by virtual teams go well beyond distance barriers to...

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