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Journal Article

A Guideline for Virtual Team Managers: the Key to Effective Social Interaction and Communication  pp109-118

Lara Schlenkrich, Christopher Upfold

© Jan 2009 Volume 12 Issue 1, ECIME 2008, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp1 - 118

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Globalisation has had an enormous impact on the manner in which teams operate. Traditional teams have been forced to adapt to their constantly changing environment in order to compete effectively with other business. A vast number of IT professionals work in teams, which are characterised by distribution and diversity. It is the presence of virtual characteristics that may result in numerous social problems which can negatively impact team communication and productivity, demanding more effective team management. There is much potential for conflict in virtual teams as members work across cultural, geographical and time‑bound environments. This conflict leads to ineffective communication and as soon as team members stop communicating effectively, barriers begin to form between them, which, leads to a decrease in productivity and interaction. Conflict resolution, and the extent to which it undermines performance, depends heavily on the conflict resolution approach. This qualitative research is conducted by means of a literature review only, in which several managerial models available to virtual team managers are critically analysed and combined into a proposed theoretical model of general managerial guidelines for virtual team managers. Both current and proposed models discussed within this paper should be viewed within the limitations of this research i.e., the proposed model remains untested and should be viewed as a hypothesis for future research. This research distinguishes virtual teams from traditional teams by defining characteristics that are common to virtual teams. These characteristics are: physical dispersion, crossing time boundaries, dependence on communication technologies, crossing functional boundaries, diversity, unstable team structure, non‑routine as well as interrelated tasks. The research argues that teams are neither entirely traditional (local) nor entirely Global but may be placed on a continuum of virtuality according to the virtual characteristics the team possesses. The theoretical model proposed by this research: Proposed Managerial Strategies, is intended to help IT managers overcome conflict and consequent social problems within virtual teams, which may otherwise lead to ineffective communication. The model provides managers with guidelines and strategies which may be implemented to enable effective social interaction and prevent future problems.


Keywords: virtual teams, globalisation, communication, distributed teams


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