A Typology Framework for Virtual Teams

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The need for project teams to work on a global level has increased (McDonough, Khan, & Barczak, 2001).

For many teams, working as a group of colocated people is no longer the norm; instead, people find that teamwork occurs across many time zones, locations, and organizations (Badrinarayanan & Arnett, 2008). This type of teamwork has led to the development of the term “virtual team.” Kirkman, Rosen, Gibson, Tesluk, and McPherson (2002) link the start of the virtual team to the early 1990s when United States multinationals and their affiliates overseas began using the team concept in order to integrate their work practices. Increased globalization and rapid improvements in communication technology have resulted in growth in the use of virtual teams, with Martin, Gilson, and Maynard (2004) contending that nearly all organizational teams are virtual to some extent, while Johnson, Heimann, and O’Neill (2001) state that we have moved away from working with people who are in visual proximity, and toward working with people around the globe. It is therefore important that the working and functioning of virtual teams is better understood.

This report aims to contribute to our understanding of virtual teams and project management by surveying the project management population to see if it is possible, using physical and soft attributes of virtual teams (defined from the academic literature), to empirically identify virtual project team typologies. Unlike previous research that has tended to focus on specific aspects or topics of virtual teams, this research provides a broad view of virtual project teams. Additionally, this study was conducted globally, across multiple companies and industry sectors, gathering information from practicing project managers.

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