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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Virtual Teams: a Literature Review - reviewed | Global Integration

Virtual Teams: a Literature Review – reviewed

"Matrix Monday"Consultant
Phil Stockbridge takes a closer look at ” Virtual Teams; a Literature
Review” by Nader Ale Ebrahim, Shamsuddin Ahmed and Zahari Taha – a
review of a review!

One of the strengths of the article is a massive – 5 pages – of
references of the literature these researchers trawled through, although
they missed out “Speed Lead” which would have certainly enhanced some of their conclusions.

The article – as the name suggests – aims essentially to be a
literature review of everything written about virtual teams (VTs) in the
last 15 years.

One of the first things it does is attempt to define what a VT is.
Interestingly the review makes no differentiation between remote and
virtual teams in the way that many people we now work with do. What they
do is define the common criteria of VTs, being geographically
dispersed, driven by a common purpose, enabled by communication
technologies, and involved in cross-boundary collaboration. They cited
other characteristics, not universally agreed on as being:-

  • not permanent
  • small in size
  • team members are knowledge workers and they may belong to different companies.
They identified four different forms of VTs, differentiating between
groups and teams in much the way we do in Speed Lead. This creates
‘Teleworkers’, ‘Remote Teams’, ‘Matrix Teleworkers’ and ‘Matrix Remote
Teams’, depending on the number of managers the group or team report

A useful couple of tables which would be worth any manager of a
remote or virtual team scanning are the benefits and drawbacks of VTs.
Whilst for many of us they seem obvious, the handy tables provide the
reader/manager with an opportunity to systematically check that they
have a plan to deal with them. As before, all the advantages and
drawbacks are referenced.

There is another table highlighting the differences in nature of VTs
and physical teams – concluding that VTs will not be the answer to every

The authors then conclude with 12 key factors that need to be
considered when setting up VTs, stating (as we do) that success in
implementing VT working is more about processes and people than about

As we’ve said in our remote and virtual teams training since its early days of development in the 90’s: “You earn the right to manage remotely.”

Source: Virtual Teams; a Literature Review by Nader Ale Ebrahim, Shamsuddin Ahmed and Zahari Taha, Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences , November 6, 2009, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 2653-2669 

About the author:

Phil Stockbridge
Phil Stockbridge is one of Global Integration's longest standing senior
directors. He has a particular talent for programmes in 'change'
environments, be this personal change, organizational change or in
developing/emerging nations and economies. Company profile: Phil Stockbridge.

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Virtual Teams: a Literature Review - reviewed | Global Integration

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