An empirical study of best practices in virtual teams
- a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 6181 Deerhill Road, Oak Park, CA 91377, USA
- b Graduate School of Management, University of Dallas, 1845 East Northgate Drive, Irving, TX 75062, USA
- Received 6 April 1999. Revised 12 March 2000. Accepted 26 December 2000. Available online 5 September 2001.
There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency that which should not be done at all.
This study explores the issue of effectiveness within virtualteams — groups of people who work together although they are often dispersed across space, time, and/or organizational boundaries. Due to the recent trend towards corporate restructuring, which can, in part, be attributed to an increase in corporate layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, competition, and globalization, virtualteams have become critical for companies to survive. Globalization of the marketplace alone, for that matter, makes such distributed work groups the primary operating units needed to achieve a competitive advantage in this ever-changing business environment.
In an effort to determine the factors that contribute to/inhibit the success of a virtualteam, a survey was distributed to a total of eight companies in the high technology, agriculture, and professional services industries. Data was then collected from 67 individuals who comprised a total of 12 virtualteams from these companies. Results indicated that several factors were positively correlated to the effectiveness of the participating teams. The teams’ processes and team members’ relations presented the strongest relationships to team performance and team member satisfaction, while the selection procedures and executive leadership styles also exhibited moderate associations to these measures of effectiveness. Analysis of predictor variables such as the design process, other internal group dynamics, and additional external support mechanisms, however, depicted weaker relations.
Although the connections between the teams’ tools and technologies and communication patterns and the teams’ effectiveness measures did not prove significant, content analysis of the participants’ narrative responses to questions regarding the greatest challenges to virtualteams suggested otherwise. Beyond the traditional strategies used to enhance a team’s effectiveness, further efforts directed towards the specific technology and communication-related issues that concern dispersed team members are needed to supplement the set of best practices identified in the current study.
- Internal group dynamics;
- External support mechanisms;