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Chapter 9 Virtual Teams: High-Tech Rhetoric and Low-Tech Experience

By Sara Kiesler, Wai Fong Boh, Yuqing Ren and Suzanne Weisband


Advances in telecommunications and computer technology have nourished visions of ideal technology use. One such vision is the concept of virtual teams. The rhetoric of virtual teams, like the rhetoric of other computerization movements, makes claims to greater efficiency, a better organization, and happier people. With virtual teams, managers reach across the geographically dispersed organization to staff project teams with the best experts at least cost. Employees enjoy working at a distance seamlessly, supported by technology. We describe the experiences of a professional, geographically dispersed organization that had to work across sites and might have nurtured virtual teams. Instead, the rhetoric of collaboration, not technology, inspired top management. Project managers did not create virtual teams, believing them to incur severe coordination costs. To foster collaboration, the company changed 263 264 Computerization Movements and Technology Diffusion incentives, reorganized, and moved offices closer together. The company adopted networking technologies slowly and reluctantly. This low-tech company adapted successfully in an environment of high-tech advice and a cultural value for technology. The rhetoric of virtual teams seems to have shifted significantly in the last decade, perhaps in the face of such low-tech experiences

Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:
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