overcome geographical or temporal separations .Virtual teams work across boundaries of time andspace by utilizing modern computer-driventechnologies. The term “virtual team” is used to cover a wide range of activities and forms of technology-supported working . Virtual teams are comprisedof members who are located in more than one physicallocation. This team trait has fostered extensive use of avariety of forms of computer-mediated communicationthat enable geographically dispersed members tocoordinate their individual efforts and inputs .From the perspective of Leenders et al. virtualteams are groups of individuals collaborating in theexecution of a specific project while geographicallyand often temporally distributed, possibly anywherewithin (and beyond) their parent organization.Amongst the different definitions of the concept of avirtual team the following from is one of the mostwidely accepted: , ‘‘virtual teams as groups of geographically, organizationally and/or time dispersedworkers brought together by information technologiesto accomplish one or more organization tasks’’. Thedegree of geographic dispersion within a virtual teamcan vary widely from having one member located in adifferent location than the rest of the team to havingeach member located in a different country .
5. Benefits and detriments of virtual teams
The availability of a flexible and configurable baseinfrastructure is one of the main advantages of agilevirtual teams. . Virtual R&D teams whichmembers do not work at the same time or place often face tight schedules and a need to start quicklyand perform instantly . On the other hand, virtualteams reduce time-to-market . Lead Time or Timeto market has been generally admitted to be one of themost important keys for success in manufacturingcompanies .Table 1summarizes some of the mainadvantages and Table 2 some of the maindisadvantages associated with virtual teaming.
Table 1: Some of the main advantagesassociated with virtual teaming
Advantages ReferencesReducing relocation time and costs,reduced travel costs[4, 35-45]Reducing time-to-market [Time alsohas an almost 1:1 correlation with cost, socost will likewise be reduced if the time-tomarket is quicker ][2, 34, 39,40, 45, 47-54]More effective R&D continuationdecisionsAble to tap selectively into center of excellence, using the best talent regardless[4, 38, 40,42, 56-60]of locationGreater productivity, shorter development times[35, 51]Greater degree of freedom toindividuals involved with the development projectHigher degree of cohesion (Teams can be organized whether or not members arein proximity to one another)[4, 62, 63]Producing better outcomes and attract better employees[23, 36]Provide organizations withunprecedented level of flexibility andresponsiveness[30, 40, 44,47, 52, 64-66]Can manage the development andcommercialization tasks quite wellOrganizations seeking to leveragescarce resources across geographic andother boundariesRespond quickly to changing businessenvironments[37, 51]Sharing knowledge, experiences [67, 68]Enable organizations to respond faster to increased competition[64, 69]Better team outcomes (quality, productivity, and satisfaction)[63, 70]Most effective in making decisions Higher team effectiveness andefficiency[34, 72]Self-assessed performance and high performance.[25, 73]Cultivating and managing creativity Improve the detail and precision of design activitiesProvide a vehicle for globalcollaboration and coordination of R&D-related activities
Table 2: Some of the main disadvantagesassociated with virtual teaming
Disadvantages Referenceslack of physical interaction [4, 36, 39,71]everything to be reinforced in a muchmore structured, formal process.Challenges of project managementare more related to the distance betweenteam members than to their cultural or language differences.Challenges of determining theappropriate task technology fit[78, 79]Cultural and functional diversity invirtual teams lead to differences in themembers’ thought processes. Developtrust among the members are challenging[39, 73, 75]Will create challenges and obstacleslike technophobia ( employees who areuncomfortable with computer and other 
Proceedings of the International Graduate on Engineering and Science (IGCES'08)
23 - 24 December © 2008 IGCES
Business and Management