Virtual teams and protecting information assets
The Case Assignment for this module involves your analysis of what is known, somewhat known, not known, or “known” but wrong in the area of the management of virtual teams. Since this phenomenon is relatively new, there isn’t a large body of knowledge specifically about such teams. Most of the advice floating around about virtual teams comes from one or more of four types of sources:
· The small number of academically respectable research studies on virtual teams
· The very large body of research done on the management of teams generally (dating back to the 1930s and of somewhat questionable generalizability due to differences in tools, culture, society, and just about everything else)
· The modest but steadily increasing body of informal or “practice wisdom” information, generally made available through blogs or other Internet sources
· The quite large body of essentially uninformed but ready-to-be-shared opinion about the topic, also Internet-available
The first two bodies of information are generally easy to identify and distinguish; they’ll be found in academic journals, conference transactions, and other such sources. Unfortunately, distinguishing between the latter two types of information is much more complicated, since they may look a great deal like each other, depending on the technical abilities of the respective website designers.
As we noted before, if you don’t really pay attention to this material, it’s really unlikely that you can write an acceptable paper on the topic below, let alone an exceptional one. We spend quite a lot of time trying to identify useful sources for you that bear on our topics for analysis; while we strongly encourage you to conduct your own further research and identify additional useful sources, this should be an add-on to the basic material rather than a substitute for it.
You should start with these two pretty good examples of respectable academic research studies; we can be reasonably confident that since they were done according to the rules, we can have reasonable confidence in their resulting findings and recommendations:
Edwards, A. and Wilson J. (2014). Implementing Virtual Teams. Gower Publishing, Oxon, GBR. (Read Part I on When We Should Use Virtual Teams and Part II What We Need to Know When Implementing Virtual Teams.)
Berry, G. (2011). Enhancing effectiveness of Virtual Teams, Journal of Business Communications, 186-206.
Sembdner, Stephan (2011). Success Factors of Virtual Teams in the Conflict of Cross-Cultural Team Structures, Diplomica Verlag: Hamburg Germany. (Read Chapter 2 and 3).
Here is a great video full of ideas and recommendations, usually claiming to have been derived from practice but not always carefully documented as such.
See the discussion of challenges of working virtually in a team.
(You aren’t expected to read every item in all of these, but you ought to review a fair sample of the material in order to get a good idea of the kinds of advice propositions being offered.)
In addition, the optional readings expand on many of the central points; you may also want to do some independent research of your own to clarify any issues that concern you.
Your task is to identify 3 to 5 significant questions regarding the management of virtual teams that relate to “practice wisdom” advice found in the readings, that you believe are sufficiently important that good quality research might help resolve their validity. Trivial questions don’t really warrant research, because the research costs money and other resources that are in scarce supply. We want to reserve our research resources to address those questions that really seem important to practice—particularly issues where the practice wisdom might be divided, with one group saying one set of things and one group another, or where there is no advice available at all. So what you’re looking for in the blogs are situations where advice seems to contradict other advice, or where advice given seems to contradict your own intuition or common sense, or otherwise where ambiguity seems to exist. The two systematic research studies will give you an idea of how such research might be done.
When you identify some topic of interest, you should be able to specify:
The research question itself; what are we trying to find out?
Why is this question interesting? Who might care what the results would be?
Where might we do such a study? How might we carry it out? (Please note: You’re not being assessed here on the quality of your research expertise; just give us some general ideas about how you think we might answer your question.)
What would you expect the results to be?
Any other thoughts or ideas you might have regarding this research issue.
So your paper is to consist of your thoughts on these questions regarding each of the 3 to 5 issues that you have been able to identify from your perusal of the readings of virtual teams.
Thus, when you have read through the articles and related material, compose a 4–6 page critical analysis paper as outlined above, on the topic:
· Three to five significant ideas about the management of virtual teams that could be usefully assessed by conducting systematic organizational research
As we said, your research recommendations need to be supported by the literature and the evidence. Obviously, as noted below, this will obligate you to actually be able to present such evidence in an academically respectable manner.