Going Virtual

Collins, Philippa
June 2003
Management Services;Jun2003, Vol. 47 Issue 6, p8
Academic Journal
There is a growing literature and much hype concerning the issues and trends in virtual working, but little agreement on the scope of the word 'virtual'. There is also a vast literature on the various interpretations of 'organisation'. Of course much depends on the perspective of the writer and the functional training or discipline in which the authors have worked. Indeed, one wit has suggested that the situation regarding 'virtual organisations' is so ambiguous, we need a research project to help us to agree on a definition! The notion that 'virtual' is synonymous with temporary can be misleading. Plenty of examples of ad hoc teams or short-lived alliances can be found, and the flexibility that such partnerships offer is obviously exploited where useful. Many examples are more permanent arrangements. There is certainly a need to move away from hierarchy and traditional organisation charts to partnerships and new business models, but organisations that have absolutely no hierarchy or vertical integration are hard to find. The Pentacle Virtual Business School is one of the rare examples. Virtual and networked organisations are in many instances dependent on technology, but an alternative term 'distributed workforce' suggests that 'going virtual' is not just about technology or telecom links. Sales teams operate out of the office; engineers visit sites for installation or repair of telephone systems, photocopiers and all kinds of other equipment--such dispersed or distributed workforces are commonplace.


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