What Are the Unique Challenges to Managing a Virtual Team?
Virtual teams represent the next stage in the evolution of corporate organisations. Globalisation, downsizing, more flexible working practices and rapid advances in information technology has allowed and accelerated the need for businesses to span geographical and organisational boundaries (Merrick, 1996). A study of the meaning and characteristics of virtual teams shows how they meet the needs and challenges of this new workplace. However, the emergence of virtual teams radically alters the way organisations work and communicate. Virtual team management faces several new and complex challenges in overcoming time, distance and cultural boundaries, in building trust, collaboration and team cohesion, in supporting and controlling team processes and outputs, and adapting to technology driven communication.
Virtual teams "are composed of employees, with unique skills, located at a distance from each other, who must collaborate to accomplish important organizational tasks" (Kirkman, Rosen, Gibson, Tesluk & McPherson, 2002, p. 67). Tasks are co-ordinated across time zones, physical, cultural and organisational boundaries.…
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