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A Study of Virtual Organizations
- in mobile computing environments -
Advisor: Carl-Fredrik Sørensen Coordinator: Alf Inge Wang
Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Computer and Information Science, NTNU Fall 2004
This project explores the domain of Virtual Organizations (VOs), presenting an overview of the concept, and describing enabling technologies. An analysis of dynamic collaborative organizations in mobile computing environments is provided, along with a comparison between these new organizational forms and the existing VO taxonomy. Motivated by the work performed by the MOWAHS project, this report aims to contribute in understanding VOs, and in continuously assessing and improving the work processes within these. The first part of the report addresses several perspectives of the VO, such as key characteristics, factors of emergence, organizational benefits, knowledge management, and coordination. Along with an overview of contemporary research and enabling technologies, this part constitutes the State-of-the-art evaluation. The second part of the report aims to challenge the way the look at VOs today, and provides a scenario analysis of dynamic collaborative organizations in mobile computing environments. The comparison of these organizations to the traditional VO characteristics, results in an extension of the VO taxonomy to include what we define as Mobil Ad Hoc VOs (MAHVOs). MAHVOs are temporary dynamic networks of independent actors with complementary core competencies, working towards a common goal in a nomadic environment. The co-operation is based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the main facilitator for sharing knowledge and fostering trust. These organizations are enabled through the use of ICT, and the work processes can be improved by using emerging technologies in ubiquitous and mobile computing, thus operating in intelligent environments. The latter part of the report applies the knowledge and experiences from traditional VOs to the future working environments. This includes extensive use of sensors and actuators serving both as supporting tools, and as actors in the organization.
Keywords: Virtual Organizations, Strategic Alliances, Knowledge Management, Mobile Work, Ad hoc Networking, Intelligent environments.
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This report has been written in the context of the course TDT4735 at IDI, NTNU. The project description was given by the Mobile Work Across Heterogeneous Systems (MOWAHS) project. The report is result of the work carried out by Kristoffer Jacobsen during the autumn 2004. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor, PhD Fellow CarlFredrik Sørensen, for providing valuable and inspiring guidance and feedback through all phases of this project.
Trondheim, November 2004
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Table of contents
Table of contents
PART I: Introduction
1. Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 1 1.1 Motivation .................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Project context ............................................................................................................. 2 1.3 Project objective .......................................................................................................... 2 1.4 Reader’s guide............................................................................................................. 3 2. Research method ............................................................................................................... 7 2.1 Literature study ............................................................................................................ 7 2.2 Scenario analysis......................................................................................................... 7
PART II: State-of-the-art
3. Literature study .................................................................................................................. 9 3.1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 9 3.2 The concept of Virtual.................................................................................................. 9 3.3 The concept of Virtual Organization .......................................................................... 11 3.4 Definitions .................................................................................................................. 12 3.5 Characteristics ........................................................................................................... 15 3.6 Trends toward Virtual Organizations ......................................................................... 24 3.7 Benefits and Drawbacks ............................................................................................ 25 3.8 Typology of Virtual organizations............................................................................... 27 3.9 Examples of Virtual Organizations............................................................................. 36 3.10 Knowledge Management / Work processes ............................................................ 38 3.11 Modeling of the Virtual organization ........................................................................ 40 3.12 Summary ................................................................................................................. 44 4. VO research initiatives..................................................................................................... 47 4.1 VOmap....................................................................................................................... 47 4.2 TrustCoM ................................................................................................................... 50 4.3 Other research........................................................................................................... 53 5. Enabling technologies ..................................................................................................... 55 5.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................ 55 5.2 Collaborative Engineering Communities.................................................................... 56 5.3 Computer Supported Cooperative Work.................................................................... 59 5.4 Ubiquitous and Mobile computing.............................................................................. 61
Table of contents
PART III: Own contribution
6. Problem elaboration......................................................................................................... 65 6.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................ 65 6.2 Scenarios................................................................................................................... 65 7. Scenarios .......................................................................................................................... 67 7.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................ 67 7.2 Traffic accident .......................................................................................................... 67 7.3 Crime scene investigation.......................................................................................... 70 7.4 Voluntary communal work ......................................................................................... 72 7.5 Experts in Team......................................................................................................... 75 7.6 Traffic......................................................................................................................... 77 7.7 Summary ................................................................................................................... 80 8. Extension of the VO taxonomy ....................................................................................... 85 8.1 Ad hoc alliances......................................................................................................... 85 8.2 Characteristics ........................................................................................................... 86 9. Future trends .................................................................................................................... 89 9.1 Technology ................................................................................................................ 89 9.2 Working environments ............................................................................................... 89
PART IV: Evaluation and conclusion
10. Evaluation and discussion ............................................................................................ 91 10.1 Evaluation ................................................................................................................ 91 10.2 Discussion ............................................................................................................... 91 11. Conclusion and further work ........................................................................................ 93 11.1 Conclusion ............................................................................................................... 93 11.2 Further work............................................................................................................. 93
PART V: Appendix
Bibliography ......................................................................................................................... 95 Appendix A: Projects ......................................................................................................... 103
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List of figures
List of figures
Figure 1. Virtual objects (Scholz, 1997) ................................................................................. 11 Figure 2. Traditional vs. ad hoc corporate structures ............................................................. 17 Figure 3. Characteristic dispersion of VOs (McKay & Marshall, 2000) .................................. 20 Figure 4. Virtual organization life cycle model (Strader et al., 1998)...................................... 21 Figure 5. The Virtual Face...................................................................................................... 28 Figure 6. Co-alliance Model ................................................................................................... 28 Figure 7. Star-alliance Model ................................................................................................. 29 Figure 8. Value-alliance Model............................................................................................... 29 Figure 9. Market-alliance Model ............................................................................................. 30 Figure 10. Virtual Broker ........................................................................................................ 31 Figure 11. Virtual alliance models (Burn & Ash, 2000)........................................................... 31 Figure 12. Three layers in the VO model (Saabel et al, 2002) ............................................... 35 Figure 13. Model towards a Virtual Organization (Saabel et al., 2002).................................. 36 Figure 14. Modeling viewpoints of a VO (Camarinha-Matos & Abreu, 2003)......................... 41 Figure 15. Positioning of modeling approaches ..................................................................... 43 Figure 16. Interpretation of the VO concept ........................................................................... 45 Figure 17. The VOmap vision (Camarinha-Matos, 2003)....................................................... 48 Figure 18. The VOmap roadmap (Camarinha-Matos, 2003).................................................. 49 Figure 19. The VOmap consortium (www.vomap.org) ........................................................... 50 Figure 20. The TrustCoM framework, conceptual model (www.eu-trustcom.com) ................ 52 Figure 21. The TrustCoM consortium (www.eu-trustcom.com).............................................. 53 Figure 22. Types of online activities ....................................................................................... 55 Figure 23. Differentiation of groups using interaction and identity ......................................... 57 Figure 24. Categorization of collaborative engineering communities..................................... 58 Figure 25. Successful VO collaboration ................................................................................. 60 Figure 26. Decentralized broker ............................................................................................. 86
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List of tables
List of tables
Table 1. Overview of the report ................................................................................................ 3 Table 2. Sections addressing the research questions.............................................................. 4 Table 3. Concept of Virtual..................................................................................................... 10 Table 4. Authors and their main focus on virtual organization ............................................... 12 Table 5. Selection of organizations in case study (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998).......................... 22 Table 6. Primary and secondary characteristics (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) ............................ 23 Table 7. Typology of VO in case study (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) .......................................... 33 Table 8. VO types comparison on multiple dimensions (Palmer & Speier, 1997).................. 34 Table 9. Inter-organizational partnerships vs. VOs (Mertens & Faisst, 1996)........................ 34 Table 10. Experienced problems with SigSys ........................................................................ 37 Table 11. Challenges in concurrent engineering.................................................................... 59 Table 12. Properties of ad hoc networking............................................................................. 62 Table 13. VO characteristics in the scenarios ........................................................................ 81 Table 14. Classification of scenarios...................................................................................... 81
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Part I Introduction
This chapter describes the motivation for this project, outlines the report context, introduces the project objective, including the research questions, and provides a reading guide.
New ways of organizing businesses are continuously evolving with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabling factor along with increasing pace and globalization of the market. Individuals and businesses now collaborate from geographically dispersed locations in a much larger degree than before. The technology is now enabling individuals to connect to the Internet and carry out their work anywhere, anytime. This is referred to as nomadic computing by (LaPorta et al., 1996). As this concept of work matures in organizations, new challenges and issues emerge related to the computer interfaces and information systems the users interact with. The explosive growth in the number and type of devices connected to the Internet requires more flexible frameworks for working across heterogeneous systems. The research on Virtual Organizations is considered to be inconsistent in the form of having lots of contributors proposing their own definitions to the concept, thus leading to a diversity of terms and descriptions of the phenomenon. The main focus for the first part of the project has been developed together with a representative from the organization SINTEF1 and the supervisors at NTNU, to map the different approaches to the subject and provide an overview that clearly presents the concept of VOs. The second part of the project will be related to mobility and how businesses can utilize mobile technology in VOs to increase the efficiency of their work. This is an important and interesting issue for many organizations which gives me an extra motivation towards this project by providing a study that is valuable to various research establishments. The own contribution in this project is a creative effort to challenge the way we look at VOs today. It provides thoughts and suggestions for an extension of the VO taxonomy. This is carried out by taking the characteristics of a VO into a different setting, and discuss whether the new scenarios qualify as types of VOs.
1. SINTEF: http://www.sintef.no
1.2 Project context
The project description for this thesis was developed in co-operation with the research project MOWAHS1 (MObile Work Across Heterogeneous Systems). The MOWAHS project is carried out jointly by IDI’s software engineering and database technology groups. The project is supported by the Norwegian Research Council. The MOWAHS goals are threefold (www.mowahs.com): G1) Helping to understand and to continuously assess and improve work processes in virtual organizations. G2) Providing a flexible, common work environment to execute and share real work processes and their artifacts, applicable on a variety of electronic devices (from big servers to small PDAs). G3) Disseminating the results to colleagues, students, companies, and the community at large. One of the research challenges in MOWAHS is to provide an efficient and userfriendly environment for helping people in virtual organizations to perform and coordinate their work at their current location, time and device configurations. The focus for this thesis will be to assist the MOWAHS project in achieving primarily the first goal, G1, providing a deeper understanding of what a virtual organization is and how it is organized, and partly G2 by studying enabling technologies.
1.3 Project objective
The main task of this project is to examine Virtual Organizations, and give an overview of the related research presented in the literature. The goal is to present an explanatory study of the concept of VOs and related discussions, and identify the work processes in these organizations. The following research questions have been identified as the foundation for this research: RQ1) What is a virtual organization? RQ2) What are the characteristics of a VO? RQ3) Why do VOs emerge? RQ4) What are the types of VOs?
1. MOWAHS: http://www.mowahs.com
RQ5) What are the benefits of adopting the VO? RQ6) What is the role of information technology in VOs? RQ7) What is the difference between a VO and an inter-organizational project? The main part of the contribution is a creative effort to introduce scenarios and analyze new organizational forms with regards to the existing taxonomy of VOs. The scenarios are focused on everyday collaborating organizations in mobile computing environments, and the work processes related to mobile work in such. The latter part of this report will discuss issues and challenges of mobile work and mobile collaboration in VOs, and will prepare the ground for a master thesis by identifying research propositions for further work on VOs and mobile collaboration.
1.4 Reader’s guide
This section is provided for the reader’s convenience and briefly describes what the report contains and how it should be read. Table 1 outlines the main chapters in this report and indicates if a chapter is dependent on another. Reading the table, one can see that e.g. Chapter 3 is dependent on the information found in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
Table 1: Overview of the report Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Chapter overview Introduction Research method Literature study VO research initiatives Enabling technologies Problem elaboration Scenarios Extension of the VO taxonomy Future trends Evaluation and discussion Conclusion and further work Chapter Dependency --Chapter 1 and 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Chapter 2, 3 Chapter 3, 5 and 6 Chapter 3, 6 and 7 Chapter 3, 5 and 8 All previous chapters All previous chapters
Part I - Introduction Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter contains background information about the project such as motivation, project context, problem definition and this reader’s guide.
Chapter 2: Research method This chapter describes the work process and the methodologies used in the project. It motivates the choice of research methods, and relates them to software engineering. Part II - State-of-the-art Chapter 3: Literature study This chapter is the result of an extensive literature study on VOs, and aims to examine and answer the research questions defined in section 1.3. Table 2 shows which sections in the chapter that address the different research questions.
Table 2: Sections addressing the research questions Research question RQ1 RQ2 RQ3 RQ4 RQ5 RQ6 RQ7 Section All sections Section 3.5 Section 3.6 and 3.7 Section 3.8 and 3.9 Section 3.5 and 3.7 All sections Section 3.8, 3.9 and 3.10
Chapter 4: VO research initiatives This chapter describes contemporary research initiatives on VOs, and presents the vision and roadmap for European research on VOs towards 2015. Chapter 5: Enabling technologies This chapter presents different enabling technologies for the type of VOs depicted in the literature study, and describes challenges to the use of Information and Communication Technology in such organizations. Emerging technologies within ubiquitous and mobile computing are also presented, and related to the context of the report. Part III - Own Contribution Chapter 6: Problem elaboration This chapter elaborates on the problem definition for the contribution of this report. It describes, in more detail, the work process of relating the concept of VOs to mobile computing environments.
Chapter 7: Scenarios This chapter presents scenarios of collaboration in mobile environments, and provides an analysis of the work processes to the characteristics of VOs. Chapter 8: Extension of the VO taxonomy This chapter presents the results of the scenario analysis, and describes the observations as an extension of the VO taxonomy, in terms of characteristics and qualities of such organizations. Chapter 9: Future trends This chapter further discusses the results of the analysis applied to future working environments, and presents opportunities and requirements towards coordination in intelligent environments. Part IV - Evaluation and Conclusion Chapter 10: Evaluation and discussion This chapter evaluates the work with regards to research method and achieved results, and discusses possible weaknesses in the context of the research. Chapter 11: Conclusion and further work This chapter concludes the work, and presents research propositions for further work.
2. Research method
The research activities for this report in the domain of Virtual Organization are mainly divided in two approaches: • Literature study • Scenario analysis
2.1 Literature study
The literature study constitutes the major part of this project. It was chosen as the best way to get an overview of the domain, and to explore the topics related to the research questions. The background and resources for this part of the report are result of an extensive literature study of articles, journals, books, web pages and forum discussions related to the concept. The approach to this study has been to find the most cited authors and the most referred publications. In this way, we have been able to get an insight in which contributors that are most acknowledged and accepted among other researchers. We have been able to present a selection of contributions that reflect the research topics in a reasonably good way, after following innumerable links between the authors. We have tried to balance the work of these acknowledged authors with a number of more specific research contributions in order to make the review of the domain as complete and consistent as possible, taking into consideration the fairly short project time period. This approach to the literature study was chosen after conferring the experiences with software engineering research methods described in (Glass et al., 2002).
2.2 Scenario analysis
The second part of the research is a scenario analysis of the concept of Virtual Organizations. It is an effort of bringing a new contribution and thoughts into a research field that is highly abundant, with the purpose of continuing the respected and innovative work within the MOWAHS project. The distinct goals of employing this research method in the project are to: • Challenge the existing view of the Virtual Organization concept.
• Identify new problem definitions and challenges, creating synergy effects between the VO research and mobile computing. • Get a deeper understanding of the subject, by applying the gained knowledge of VOs in a different setting. Scenario analysis as a research method in software engineering, is mainly related to requirements engineering, as described in (Sutcliffe, 1998). However, for the purpose of visualizing and extracting valuable knowledge of mobile environments, scenarios are used as the foundation for this approach to VOs. This method of modeling a domain is a sort of use case modeling. In software engineering, scenarios are defined in the following way: “A scenario is a sequence of steps describing an interaction between a user and a system.” (Fowler, 2000) The scenarios in this report are textual use cases focusing on describing the different actors in the organization, their roles and responsibilities, and the rules of which the organizational entities acts according to. The technology and systems the users interact with are described both in terms of method, and the role of the technology in each specific organization. When describing the scenarios, we used qualitative methods to provide correct information and to secure consistency of our interpretation of the domain. These studies were carried out in good software engineering practice, as described in (Seaman, 1999).
Part II State-of-the-art
3. Literature study
This chapter gives an overview of the literature that describes the concept of Virtual Organizations (VO). We take a broad approach to the subject and try to cover most of the topics that are relevant to answer the presented research questions.
(Mowshowitz, 1986) used the term Virtual Organization for the first time in 1986. Since then, there has been a lot of research on this type of networked organizations and how they will revolutionize the way we work in the 21st Century. There are numerous definitions of a VO because many authors and research groups use their own definition for their work. In the book "The Virtual Corporation", (Davidow & Malone, 1992) presented one of the first extensive approaches to the subject. The focus for their conception of a Virtual Corporation relates to the concept of a Virtual Product. The ideal virtual product according to them, was a product or service that "is produced instantaneously and customized in response to customer demand." Throughout this chapter, we will present different approaches to the subject based on the literature, and try to give an overview of the characteristics of a Virtual Organization. In the literature, there exist various synonyms to the term Virtual Organization: Virtual Corporation (VC), Virtual Enterprise (VE) and Virtual Company (VCo) are all related to the same concept of co-operation between different organizations or individuals.
3.2 The concept of Virtual
According to Oxford Concise Dictionary the term “virtual” is defined as: “that is such for practical purposes, though not in name or according to a strict definition.” Related to this definition, (Fairchild, 2004) says that “an organization may be thought of as a number of individuals systematically united for some end or work”. He proposes that a virtual organization may be viewed as “a number of individuals united with a practical purpose, or a practical purpose for the 21st century”. (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) claim that the different definitions of a VO partly depend on the view the authors have on the concept of "virtual". Table 3 presents four different views that describe the meaning of “virtual”:
Table 3: Concept of Virtual View of “Virtual” Unreal, looking real Interpretation (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) Originated from optics. Discrimination between a real picture and a virtual picture. Both pictures look the same, but as opposed to a real picture, a virtual picture can’t be caught on a photographic paper. Example (Franke, 2000) Virtual reality
Immaterial, supported by ICT
Used in expressions like virtual library, virtual classroom, etc. In this view, functions that are often performed by people are replaced by the use of ICT.
Virtual shopping mall
Only active if a certain opportunity comes along. It can directly unfold new activities if a new project is initiated.
Existing, but changing
Something exists, but the composition is temporary and is possibly changing every day.
(Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) analyzed different definitions of a VO, and concluded that all four views on virtuality presented in Table 3 could be found among the definitions. The examples given by Franke on the different views of the term virtual are based on a model presented in (Scholz, 1997) of virtual objects. Figure 1 shows how Scholz divides a virtual organization into an intra- and inter-organizational perspective, where the concept Virtual Corporation is considered interorganizational.
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Figure 1: Virtual objects (Scholz, 1997)
The term virtualness was introduced by (Venkatraman & Henderson, 1996) and related to what the concept of virtuality mean for organizations. They proposed that: “Virtualness is the ability of the organization to consistently obtain and coordinate critical competencies through its design of value-adding business processes and governance mechanisms involving external and internal constituencies to deliver differential, superior value in the market place.” This emphasizes that an organization does not become virtual simply by using ICT and nominating themselves as a VO, but as a result of how the organization is managed.
3.3 The concept of Virtual Organization
Virtual organizations are given attention by researchers within a wide range of fields, from social anthropology and organizational theory to computer science. They have not yet agreed on a mutual definition of the concept, and there is no theoretical framework available to give a better understanding of the concept.
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There are a lot of different contributions to the subject, and many of them are related to functional aspects, such as the role of information technology in VOs, legal issues, socio-economic issues, and so on. Other authors relate the concept to business concepts such as knowledge management, flexible or dynamic networking, agile competition, business process redesign and supply webs. The focus on VOs can be divided into two main categories: • Structure perspective. • Process perspective. Contributions from different authors are mainly within one of these categories. The structure perspective focuses on the building blocks of the VO and its properties, while the process perspective focuses on behavior and operation. Table 4 from (Saabel et al., 2002) shows how the literature reflects the two views.
Table 4: Authors and their main focus on virtual organization Perspective Structure Author Byrne (1993) Aken et al. (1998) Strader et al. (1998) Wildeman (1998) Grenier and Metes (1995) Wütrich and Phillips (1998) Mertens et al. (1998) Goldman et al. (1995) Davidow and Malone (1992) Terminology Network Network Network Alliance Alliance Form of co-operation Form of co-operation Combination of core-competencies Combination of activities
Hale and Whitlaw (1997) Venkatraman and Henderson (1998) Mowshowitz (1997) Katzy (1998)
Continuous or institutionalized change Strategic approach Management approach Action or ability
Analysis of the definitions of a VO provided by authors and scholars is a reasonable way to determine the attributes of a VO. This section presents different views on what defines this type of organization.
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(Grimshaw and Kwok, 1998) presents five major attributes of a VO: • Alliance for a common goal • Underlying Information and Communication Technology • Vertical Integration • Globalization • Collaboration The presented attributes are based on definitions in the literature: "In a virtual organization, complementary resources existing in a number of co-operating companies are left in place, but are integrated to support a particular product effort for as long as it is justifiable to do so." (Goldman et al., 1995) "Virtual organizations are distributed 'business processes'. These processes may be 'owned' by one or more organizations acting in partnership. For a specific project, resources are assembled to perform a business process on behalf of the project owner(s), and then disassembled on completion of the contract." (Wolff, 1995) These definitions characterize the VO as an alliance for a common goal. The authors describe the co-operation between the companies as a sort of partnership or joint venture where all members contribute their core-competencies. It is interesting to note that they do not mention the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support co-operation. ICT as a facilitating mechanism for VOs is emphasized by other authors: "The key to understanding the virtual corporation is the profound effect that information technology has as it distorts traditional relationships of management and work to time and space." (Coates, 1994) "The conjunctional grouping, based on the Net, of companies, individuals, and organizations to create a business." (Tapscott, 1996) "Increasingly, executives are turning to alliances, partnerships and joint ventures, often formed to produce particular products and then disbanded. These enable costs to be shared, development times to be shortened and effective use to be made of design, manufacturing and marketing skills inside
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and outside the company. Such linkages - variously described as virtual corporations or agile enterprises - are made easier by computer technology." (Fisher, 1993) Vertical integration as an attribute to VO was introduced by (Pastore, 1993) and (Klein, 1994), and was based on the suggestion that the companies in a VO should include both suppliers and long-term customers into the VO to increase the efficiency of their value-chain. "In order to have a rapid response to the market (customers), companies have to reorganize themselves around response to customer demand, forging tight relational and technological bonds with core suppliers and longterm customers. That is the shape of the corporation of the future, a virtual corporation." (Pastore, 1993) "Virtual corporation consists of the company that faces the customer and a network of other companies that co-operate to achieve what none of them could achieve alone. This arrangement permits each participant to concentrate on what each does best and to limit its risks and investments to its core competencies." (Klein, 1994) Globalization of the VO was mentioned in (Wolff, 1995) and (Coates, 1994) and describes how various departments of an organization could be spread over several countries. The authors also discuss potential benefits from distributing the operations globally. "To achieve maximum benefits for the project owners, the majority of the resources are independent sub-contractors working from home or local centres. They could be distributed globally." (Wolff, 1995) "The virtual corporation can be taken to be one with a relatively small headquarters operating with many different internal units, alliances and subcontractors. The largest of them will operate on a global scale." (Coates, 1994) The last attribute discussed by (Grimshaw and Kwok, 1998) is collaboration. This is one of the most important features of the VO, and is highlighted by (Dubinskas, 1993). "The terms 'virtual team' and 'virtual organization' evoke the special status of groups created through the use of groupware such as computer conferencing. Virtual organization… is important in shaping organizational
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outcomes. Virtual teams become part of the ongoing process of structuration, while also providing a new tool for organizational design. Virtual team exists through the use of groupware, but it appears to the user to have attributes and functions of a conventional social group. Virtual organization is the larger scale ordering and linking of virtual groups." (Dubinskas, 1993) From all these definitions, we observe the different attributes of the VO and these make the foundation to start talking about the formal characteristics of a VO. (Byrne, 1993) provide the most widely accepted and cited definition of the term Virtual Corporation within the academic literature: "A virtual corporation is a temporary network of independent companies suppliers, customers, and even rivals - linked by information technology to share skills, costs, and access to one another's markets. This corporate model is fluid and flexible - a group of collaborators that quickly unite to exploit a specific opportunity. Once the opportunity is met, the venture will, more often than not, disband. In the concept's purest form, each company that links up with others to create a virtual corporation contributes only what it regards as its core competencies. Technology plays a central role in the development of the virtual corporation. Teams of people in different companies work together, concurrently rather than sequentially, via computer networks in real time." (Byrne, 1993) This definition has clearly a structural perspective, and gives a detailed picture of the building blocks of a virtual organization. (Hale & Whitlaw, 1997) on the other side provide a definition from a process perspective within the subject of organizational development. "The virtual organization is the name given to any organization which is continually evolving, redefining and reinventing itself for practical business purposes." (Hale & Whitlaw, 1997) They emphasize that the concept is not so much about “managing in the sense of planning, controlling, directing and organizing, but more concerned with the notion of continuous or institutionalized change”.
To answer the question “What is a Virtual Organization?”, it is important to review the different characteristics of a VO. The selection of characteristics discussed in this section is based on the work of (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998). They performed an extensive literature research to map the different properties that constitute a VO.
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The characteristics in section 3.5.1 are, according to several authors, key factors of a VO. The characteristics described in section 3.5.1 and section 3.5.2 are a mix of proven properties of companies referred to as VOs in the literature and different author’s view of a VO. Therefore, the list of characteristics has to be evaluated by performing further empirical studies, and can for the time being be considered to be a sort of proposition.
3.5.1 Key characteristics
The characteristics presented in this section are considered key factors for a VO by several authors. KC1 Based on core competencies Each partner in the VO contributes with its core competencies. The initiator determines the most suitable business process related to the complementary skills provided by the different companies in the VO. The synergy effect that is the result of combining all the core competencies enables the organization with a flexible way of meeting the customer demands. The goal is to produce a sort of all-star team. KC2 Network of independent organizations The designation of a VO as a network of independent organizations is widely accepted in the literature. This means that we focus on the VO from an interorganizational perspective (see Figure 1), and that we discuss the concept Virtual Corporation when we talk about VOs according to the model provided by (Scholz, 1997). KC3 One identity According to (Aken et al., 1998), the VO must have its own identity. If the identity of the partners remains visible in addition to the VOs identity, it is considered a “Soft VO”. A “Hard VO” looks from the outside like one common organization. KC4 Based on Information Technology Different authors have their own view on Information and Communication Technology as a factor in VOs. (Mowshowitz, 1994) regards the advances in transportation, communication and computing as important for a VO. (Byrne, 1993) considers an information network as essential for companies to link up and work together. The vision of VOs presented by (Davidow & Malone, 1992) is strongly based on ICT. KC5 No hierarchy The equality of the partners in a VO leads to an organization without hierarchy. It is called an egalitarian structure by (Sieber, 1998). Other authors also state that
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there is no hierarchy in a VO. The positive effects of this structure would be enhancing the efficiency and the responsiveness of the organization, and decreasing the overhead (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998). The term “adhocracies” was introduced in (Toffler, 1970) as part of his predictions for the future, and later acknowledged in (Malone & Rockart, 1993) as a description of the management structure in networked organizations. It is the large amount of unpredictable lateral communication that makes this organizational structure extremely coordinationintensive. Figure 2, inspired by (Malone & Rockart, 1993), shows a comparison between the traditional hierarchy and the notion of an adhocracy.
Figure 2: Traditional vs. ad hoc corporate structures
KC6 Distinction between strategical and operational level (~ separability) According to (Mowshowitz, 1999), the logical separation of need from needfulfillment is the foundation of VO. He emphasizes that there, on a managerial level, is a clear distinction between the abstract requirements and the concrete implementation to reach the organizational goals. This is called the “switching principle”.
3.5.2 Other characteristics
The characteristics presented in this section are considered characteristics of a VO by several authors, but is not regarded as essential to define a VO. OC1 Small sized partners: Small companies and/or parts of large companies The core competencies of a partner are usually not the whole company, unless it is a small company that has specialized its operations within a niche. The smaller size of partners leads to more flexibility and makes it easier for the organization to take advantage of opportunities in the market. Several authors point to the fact that larger companies often are slower in decision making and innovation, which are essential factors in responding to opportunities.
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OC2 Vague/fluid boundaries It is not easy to determine where one organization begins and another ends when talking about VOs. This is the result of more co-operation among competitors, customers, suppliers, designers, etc. (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998). The boundaries of the traditional organizations are redefined by the VO. (Mowshowitz, 1994) distinguishes internal and external boundaries, where the latter is between the VO and the outside world as opposed to boundaries between the internal partners (units) in the VO. OC3 Semi-stable relations According to (Byrne, 1993), the relations in a VO are less formal and less permanent. The relations create dependencies among the partners, but the partners can also survive without them (Aken et al., 1998). OC4 Dependent on opportunism Part of the most widely accepted definition of a VO by (Byrne, 1993), describes how companies band together to meet a special market opportunity, and are most likely to fall apart once the need disappear. When a company partners with others in a VO, they enlarge their scope and scale of opportunities available. Small organizations, limited by size and lack of capital, often cannot take advantage of emerging business opportunities alone. OC5 Shared risks As described above, VOs respond to opportunities in the market, and risks are shared by every partner in the VO. (Chesbrough & Teece, 1996) provided informative lessons on how to analyze risks within networked organizations. The authors present a framework to help managers when to innovate by going virtual, when to form alliances, and when to rely on internal development. They state that “as market-based incentives become greater, the risk-taking will increase”. OC6 Based on trust Since VOs are based on sharing information and knowledge, there must be a high amount of trust among the partners. Especially since each partner contribute with their core competencies. The most important contribution on the subject of trust within VOs was provided in (Handy, 1995). “Virtuality requires trust to make it work: Technology on its own is not enough.” (Handy, 1995) Handy discusses how you can manage people whom you do not see, and defines the rules of trust, based on common sense. An interesting comment on working in a VO is that a shared commitment still requires personal contact to make it real.
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“Paradoxically, the more virtual the organization, the more its people need to meet in person.” (Handy, 1995) Related to trust is also co-destiny discussed by (Byrne, 1993), which means that the fate of each partner is dependent on the fate of other partners. OC7 Shared ownership This characteristic is related to the fact that every independent partner has its own interests in the VO, and that parts of the VO can be owned by different partners (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998). (Aken et al., 1998) state that a partner will, or can, step out of the VO once its goals have been met. OC8 Shared leadership According to (Aken et al., 1998), every partner controls its own resources but not automatically the resources of the whole VO. OC9 Shared loyalty Along with shared ownership comes shared loyalty. Every employee of every partner in the VO must identify themselves with the VO, and at the same time with their own company. It is important to build a culture within the organization. As Sieber puts it: “People determine the success of a VO.” (Sieber, 1998) The concept of a Virtual Culture is discussed by (Ash & Burn, 2000), who describe it as a perception of the entire VO held by its stakeholder community. In other words, it is the feeling of collectivity with respect to value sharing and time-space arrangement. For example, each client’s expectations are satisfied in the product accessed, and each partner has the feeling of a continuous access to the organization and its products. OC10 Dynamic network The description of a VO as a dynamic network is related to the fact that organizations or individuals can enter and leave the network at any time. OC11 Dependent on innovation As described earlier, the VO is often based on market opportunities, and the essential element is the corresponding responsiveness. (Chesbrough & Teece, 1996) state that the adequate way to react to a market-based incentive, is through innovative products and services. This is not necessarily only in a technical perspective, and could for instance be related to innovation in organizational design.
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OC12 Geographical dispersed Several authors state that the partners in a VO are geographically dispersed. The definition of “geographical dispersed” in the work of (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) is that “a company is geographical dispersed if the buildings are separated”. Figure 3 shows a classification of geographical dispersion related to business alliances.
Figure 3: Characteristic dispersion of VOs (McKay & Marshall, 2000)
This factor is one of the most important for the use of ICT in VOs. Technology enables the companies to collaborate independently of location and time, and could give the members of a virtual team a sense of presence and connectivity even though they are miles apart. OC13 No organization chart and meta-organization The VO can be looked upon as some sort of umbrella organization, a metaorganization. There are all kinds of organizational structures within the cooperating companies, which make it difficult to draw an organization chart. Another implication is the dynamic characteristics of the VO, where the stakeholders in some instances come and go dependent on whether their goals for the co-operation have been met. OC14 Customer based and mass-customization Mass-customization is related to individual services and products to satisfy the particular needs and wishes of the customers. A concretization of this is the concept of the Virtual Product introduced by (Davidow & Malone, 1992) based on strong interaction with the customer. OC15 Lifespan of co-operation: temporary vs. permanent The lifetime of a VO is widely discussed in the literature, but most of the authors are focusing their definition towards VO as a temporary network of independent companies as stated by (Byrne, 1993). The underlying notion is that they unite
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quickly, exploit an opportunity and disband afterwards. Other research uses the interpretation of VO as a temporary organization that also can exist on a longlasting base (Aken et al., 1998). Van Aken introduces the concepts “Project” for temporary organization, and “Program” for the long-lasting organization. As an example, a VO can be disbanded in the event of project completion, but can also have an undetermined duration in the case of the organization remaining functional for as long as customer demands exist and/or the participants find their collaboration to be beneficial (Jägers et al., 1998). The life cycle of a VO has been discussed in more detail by (Strader et al., 1998), and they proposed a model of the life cycle of a VO as presented in Figure 4.
Partner Identification Opportunity Identification Partner Selection Opportunity Selection Partnership formation Design Marketing Financial Management Manufacturing Distribution Asset Dispersal Operation Termination
Figure 4: Virtual organization life cycle model (Strader et al., 1998)
The authors define two or more major decision processes for each of the four stages of the life cycle; Identification, Formation, Operation and Termination. The identification phase involves opportunity identification and opportunity evaluation and selection. These decisions are sequentially related. Once the best available market opportunity has been selected to be pursued, the formation phase of the VO begins by partner identification followed by selecting the most suitable partners for partnership. Once the organization has been formed, it can begin its operation phase. Important decisions are categorized into five functional areas of design, marketing, financial management, manufacturing, and distribution. When the market opportunity is fulfilled or has ceased to exist, the VO will be terminated by two major decision processes in the termination phase; operation termination and asset dispersal.
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OC16 Balance of power: equality of partners vs. core-partners Because of the high dependency between the partners in a VO, the participant relations become more equal. (Jägers et al., 1998) state that the former culture of control is replaced by a culture based on the desire to share skills and information. On the contrary, (Aken et al., 1998) make a distinction between a VO with or without a core-partner. They state that “a core-partner is some sort of ‘leader’ of a VO to which the other partners have to comply”. Worth noting here is that since members of a virtual alliance may be partners in one venture but competitors in others, they have less incentive to be open and share data than within hierarchical organizations or within their alliance with suppliers and customers. OC17 Mission-overlap: partial vs. complete Partners that do business outside the context of the VO, in addition to the work within the alliance, are considered having partial mission-overlap. While partners performing all business within the organizational context, have complete missionoverlap. The literature describes both kinds of VOs (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998).
3.5.3 Case Study
(Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) have performed an empirical study on the selection of characteristics. The sample source for their case study was six existing companies, described in literature as VOs and differing on three points; small versus large, Dutch versus international, and ICT based versus non-ICT based. The companies are listed in Table 5, where “Company X” and “Company Y” denote the columns for the criteria comparison.
Table 5: Selection of organizations in case study (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) Criteria Small VOs vs. Large VOs Dutch VOs vs. International VOs ICT-based VOs vs. no ICT-based VOs ING Amazon.com Company X Prolion Nike Airbus TMG Company Y
The case studies were performed by mapping the characteristics on each company, conducting interviews with employees. An analysis of the results was performed to distinguish different levels in the list of characteristics. Three levels were defined: “primary”, “secondary”, and “no” characteristic. Based on the selection of companies, characteristics that fit all VOs were considered primary characteristics, while the ones that fit four or five VOs were considered secondary characteristics. Characteristics that met less than four organizations were ruled out of the list. The results of this level analysis are shown in Table 6.
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Table 6: Primary and secondary characteristics (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) Primary characteristics Partial mission overlap Customer based & mass-customization Network of independent organizations Semi-stable relations Geographical dispersed Based on core competencies Dependent on innovation Secondary characteristics One identity Based on trust Shared loyalty Based on information technology Distinction between a strategical and operational level
The analysis divides the list into seven primary and five secondary characteristics, where only two of the key factors mentioned in section 3.5.1 (Based on core competencies and Network of independent organizations) are considered primary characteristics. Out of the four other key factors, only (No hierarchy) does not comply to the secondary characteristics condition, matching only three companies. To enhance the readability of their study, (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) formulated their definition of a VO, divided in two parts according to the two levels of characteristics: “A Virtual Organization is primarily characterized as being a network of independent, geographically dispersed organizations with a partial mission overlap. Within the network, all partners provide their own core competencies and the co-operation is based on semi-stable relations. The products and services provided by a Virtual Organization are dependent on innovation and are strongly customer-based.” (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) “Further, a Virtual Organization is secondarily characterized by a single identity with loyalty being shared among the partners and the co-operation based on trust and information technology. In addition, there is also a clear distinction between a strategic and an operational level.” (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998)
Although the study carried out by (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) gives a good overview on how the characteristics of a VO discussed in the literature maps to the reality and existing organizations, it can be questioned whether all of the companies investigated in this study really are VOs. This study should also be supplemented with other empirical studies of the domain. Some of the characteristics do not fit
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the general definitions of a VO used by authors and researchers throughout the world, and it is therefore interesting to deduce a typology of the concept of virtual organizations. This view has captured the attention from several authors and some of this research is discussed in section 3.8.
3.6 Trends toward Virtual Organizations
One of the interesting things about VOs is that the factors causing them to form, existed long before the age of computers. In the construction industry, groups of independent operators formed organizations to build houses and buildings. The same applies for the movie industry when producing films. What has changed is according to (Fairchild, 2004), that the trends that leads to VO have increased. The trends towards VOs are reviewed by (Bleeker, 1994) and are widely cited in the literature. Bleeker proposes that the four key trends are: • Pace • Cost • Personalization • Globalization
(Bleeker, 1994) comments on Alvin Toffler’s predictions in (Toffler, 1970), about businesses running at warp speeds, demanding immediate responses anywhere, anytime. Toffler predicted that the business market would turn into “survival of the fastest, not the fittest”. Today, this can be witnessed by the compressed life cycles for all activities in the value chain, and hierarchical organizations that cannot respond to new demands (Fairchild, 2004).
The second trend (Bleeker, 1994) points to, is the decreasing cost of market entry, particularly in the information services and other technology-driven industries. In these industries, “even small undercapitalized startups can have an enormous impact on innovation” (Bleeker, 1994), “far beyond the apparent limits of their size” (Fairchild, 2004).
Personalization, or customization, is made possible in a higher degree by computerized manufacturing, which has made it “economical to produce assembly-line product runs of a few dozen items instead of a few thousand”
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(Bleeker, 1994). Not only do organizations save money by not needing large manufacturing facilities, customization also allows organizations to produce tailored products for a wider group of customers. Corporations are now driven more by customer demands than by internal needs. “Today, customers get what they want or go elsewhere” (Bleeker, 1994).
Competition includes companies all over the world, rather than only with their nearest located rivals. “Taken together, these factors in many instances have made a hierarchical organization an inappropriate solution to the market’s needs and have made Virtual Organizations viable options”. (Fairchild, 2004) Underlying all these trends is Information Technology, which enables an organization to quickly gather, integrate and analyze large amounts of information, and disseminate it accurately to consumers throughout the world. VOs could probably exist without ICT, like general contractors have existed in the building industry for generations. However, “its scope and the areas in which it operates would be limited by time and space constraints” (Fairchild, 2004). This is also reviewed by (Bleeker, 1994), who talks about the “unwired society” and how employees will work independently of time and space constraints. “It’s the age of emancipation. Time and space will collapse, and the barriers to communications will fall away.” (Bleeker, 1994)
3.7 Benefits and Drawbacks
There are several reasons why VOs emerge, as depicted in the previous section. The benefits of adopting the VO model have become more noticeable. This section presents benefits and drawbacks identified by (Grimshaw & Kwok, 1998) from a case study of established VOs. A discussion of strategic reasons for organizing the business as a VO is also provided here.
VOs extend the strategic reach of an organization. This involves extending the scope and scale of opportunities that are available to the organization, quantified by the factors size, time and space. A VO can help the companies within the partnership to take advantage of emerging business opportunities they could not have done alone because of limited size or lack of capital. As part of a VO, the company could also respond more quickly and mobilize to take advantage of
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market opportunities. By strategically teaming up with other companies around the world, a company can enter previously closed markets. All the examples described above show how a VO breaks the size, time and space constraints, broadens the strategic horizon and thereby offers great benefits for the organizations. The results of the case study by (Grimshaw & Kwok, 1998), identify the following benefits within the investigated VOs: • Increasing competitive capabilities • Flexibility • Greater responsiveness to market (customers) • Improving customer service • Cost benefits • Improving communication and internal control
The complexity of a VO has some implications for the organization, and brings the following challenges according to the case studies in (Grimshaw & Kwok, 1998). High costs The main costs are related to investment in ICT and the subsequently high operational costs, including training and maintenance. Looking at the general trends in technology costs, this issue is likely to be of reducing significance. Legal problems VOs are established fast and efficiently to respond to market opportunities or tackle specific projects. This can result in complex legal problems as the boundaries between the organizations become vague or fluid. For instance, there may be discussions on which partner holding the copyrights to the final design or products. Trust and respect issues Trust and respect are one of the most important factors for a successful VO. This applies both for knowledge sharing and the group dynamics for collaboration. Again, the pace of VO establishment and geographical dispersion can imply serious trust and respect issues. Empirical studies reveal that many companies abandon co-operative arrangements due to problems with trust and control.
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Cultural issues Co-operation in VOs may involve working across cultures. This is a big challenge to many managers, and requires them to transfer their business policies and culture to work with dispersed business teams - spanning organization, geography, and cultures.
According to (Goldman et al., 1995), the benefits offered by the VO concept outclass the drawbacks. They suggest that the VO “is dramatically better than business as usual for a network of companies sharing a business opportunity” and propose six strategic reasons for adopting the VO model: 1. Sharing infrastructure, R&D, risk and costs 2. Linking complementary core competencies 3. Reducing concept to cash time through sharing 4. Increasing facilities and apparent size 5. Gaining access to markets, and sharing market or customer loyalty 6. Migrating from selling products to selling solutions
3.8 Typology of Virtual organizations
The list of characteristics provided in section 3.5 does not comply to every organization referred to as a VO in the literature or in the industry and commerce. It is therefore reasonable to think that VOs exist in many different forms of business models. This section aims to provide an overview of the different kind of VOs, describes the distinctions between them, and questions whether all of these concept models really refer to what the “most common” interpretation of a VO is. During the 1990’s the term Virtual Organization became a buzzword, possibly resulting in businesses calling themselves VOs for marketing purposes.
3.8.1 Models of virtuality
Organizations denoted as VOs can be related to one of the six models of virtuality suggested by (Burn et al., 1999).
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The Virtual Face An easy way to describe a virtual face is that it is a cyberspace incarnation of a non-virtual organization. These kinds of VOs are usually created to add value by providing the same transactions and services to the customers over the Internet. For instance, web shops or newspapers on the web. Figure 5 shows a model of the virtual face, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
Figure 5: The Virtual Face
Co-alliance model Shared partnerships where each partner brings approximately equal amounts of commitment to the VO are denoted as the Co-alliance model. The partners form a consortium, where the composition may change in order to reflect market opportunities or the core competencies of each member. The links within the coalliance are usually contractual for permanent alliances, or by mutual convenience on a project by project basis. Figure 6 shows a model of the co-alliance, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
Figure 6: Co-alliance Model
Star-alliance model Coordinated networks of interconnected members, where each member reflects a core surrounded by satellite organizations, is the definition of a star-alliance model (Burn & Ash, 2000). The core is normally a leading actor (star) in the market and
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supplies the members of the alliance with competency or expertise. Figure 7 shows a model of the star-alliance, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
Figure 7: Star-alliance Model
Value-alliance model Based on the value or supply chain, the value-alliance model gathers a range of products, services and facilities into one package. The coordination is normally provided by the general contractor, but participants may also come together on a project by project basis. In cases where longer term relationships have been developed, the value alliance tends to adopt the form of constellations, with complex strategic relations between the suppliers and the companies in the value chain. Figure 8 shows a model of the value-alliance, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
Figure 8: Value-alliance Model
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Market-alliance model Like the value-alliance model, the market-alliance also brings together a range of products and services and facilities into one package. In this case, they may be offered separately by individual organizations, and the market-alliance exists primarily in cyberspace. The concept of virtual communities could also be related to this model. Figure 9 shows a model of the market-alliance, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
Figure 9: Market-alliance Model
Virtual broker The virtual broker can be described as a designer of dynamic networks. Virtual brokers seek strategic opportunities either as third-party value-added suppliers or as a kind of information broker of specific business information services. This is the most flexible purpose-built VO that is actually created to fill a window of opportunity and is dissolved when that window is closed. When (Miles & Snow, 1986) introduced the concept of dynamic networks, they suggested that this kind of network needed a coordinator, a net-broker. In (Snow et al., 1992), three netbroker roles; architect, lead operator and caretaker have been identified. Responsible for respectively the selection of suitable partners and web members, the overall project management and maintenance, and supporting the process of “learning to cooperate and cooperate to learn”. Figure 10 shows a model of the virtual broker, inspired by (Burn & Ash, 2000).
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Figure 10: Virtual Broker
Summary of the virtual alliance models Each of the presented alliances has a different degree of virtuality based on the tensions related to autonomy and interdependence within the organization. A measure of flexibility is the substitutability of the virtual links within the organization to allow the creation of new competencies. (Burn & Ash, 2000) present an overview of the different models with regards to the degree of virtuality. This overview is shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11: Virtual alliance models (Burn & Ash, 2000)
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3.8.2 Types of VOs
The background for this section is the VO typology studies of (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) and (Palmer & Speier, 1997), which have been widely adopted by researchers. They are approaches towards classifying the organizations specified as VOs in the literature. The study by (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) is based on previous work in (Campbell, 1997), and proposes a typology of VOs divided into four concepts; internal VO, stable VO, dynamic VO and web-company. Internal VO This kind of VO could be described as one organization that aims at operating with internal teams. The VO consists of several business units that are composed of autonomous groups and teams. Management tasks are performed in a decentralized manner, and the availability of employees from different places is the key factor for the flexible structure of the organization. Stable VO The foundation for this kind of VO is the co-operation between different organizations and it aims contracting non core-competencies out by a core partner. The committed suppliers of core-competencies are closely related to the core partner. Dynamic VO The dynamic VO co-operates on a large scale basis with other organizations. Opportunism and temporality are the foundation for the relations between them. Co-operation in these VOs are dependent on the occurrences of market incentives, offering a great deal of flexibility to the organization. Web-company The web-company, or agile organizations, is a temporary network of specialized organizations based on the use of Internet (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998). The Internet is enabling the organization to offer their products and services on a global scale, and the key factors for a well functioning organization are knowledge management and knowledge sharing.
From the case study performed by (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998), the six companies (also listed in Table 5) are distributed among the VO types as shown in Table 7.
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Table 7: Typology of VO in case study (Bultje & van Wijk, 1998) Type Internal VO Stable VO Dynamic VO Web-company Nike, ING, Airbus TMG, Prolion Amazon.com Researched organizations
The study by (Palmer & Speier, 1997) is a survey of 55 organizations employing the virtual model. Through survey responses and additional background information supplied by the organizations, they developed a typology of VOs divided into four concepts; virtual teams, virtual projects, temporary VOs and permanent VOs. Virtual teams The concept of virtual teams is generated by the internal organizational use of the virtual concept, and is in use in a large variety of organizations. The virtual teams normally come from specific functional, process or strategic business units within a larger organization. This notion is strongly related to the concept of an internal VO discussed previously. Virtual projects The concept of virtual projects is based on organizations that form alliances or consortiums to bring complementary organizations together to meet market opportunities. It is most common that the partnering organizations are based around similar industries or company types. Temporary VOs The concept of temporary VOs is an extension of the virtual project design, established to take on multiple projects and develop responses to a specific market opportunity. This is in other words similar to the initial virtual organizational model proposed by (Byrne, 1993) among others. Permanent VO The concept of permanent VOs is that the VO, from its inception, is designed to bring together market players and respond to opportunities for both improved revenue-generating activities as well as cost savings (Palmer & Speier, 1997).
During the case study performed by (Palmer & Speier, 1997), the respondents identified the scope of their work, the projected length of time spent in virtual work, types of projects, the range of involvement and the number of personnel involved.
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These criteria suggested the distinct VO types presented above, and Table 8 gives a comparison of the VO types on the dimensions discussed.
Table 8: VO types comparison on multiple dimensions (Palmer & Speier, 1997) Virtual teams Range of involvement Internal to an organizational function or departmental unit Small, local Virtual projects Across functions and organizations Temporary VOs Across organizations Permanent VOs Across Organizations
Typically smaller, but scalable All functions and full functionality as a working organization Permanent
Teams on specific, ongoing tasks
Multiple organizational representatives working on specific projects Temporary
Multiple functions responding to a market opportunity Temporary
Length of project Use of IT
Membership varies, but form is permanent Connectivity, sharing embedded knowledge (email, groupware)
Repository of shared data (databases, groupware)
Shared infrastructure (groupware, WANs, remote computing)
Channel for marketing and distribution, replacing physical infrastructure (Web, Intranet)
3.8.3 Inter-organizational partnerships vs. VOs
Table 9 presents the major differences between the VO concept (with the notion of VO as a temporary network of complementary organizations) and other forms of inter-organizational partnerships from organizational theory.
Table 9: Inter-organizational partnerships vs. VOs (Mertens & Faisst, 1996) Inter-organizational partnership Strategic Alliance Difference in characteristics compared to a VO - a less closed relationship - hardly any virtual added value processes - mainly formed by large corporations - existence beside the core business - dependency agreement - aims to limit competition - existence of formal agreements - long lasting dependency agreement - establishment of a new business - stable membership of partners
Conglomerate Cartel Consortium Franchise Joint Venture Keiretsu
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3.8.4 Summary of VO typology
The study of the VO typology shows that there are many different incarnations of VOs. They all have a certain set of characteristics in common, and some that are emphasized in that specific type of VO. For the rest of the study the focus will be set on the dynamic view of VOs, with the interpretation of a VO as a temporary network of modules: organizations, companies or individuals. Figure 12 shows the concept of the dynamic organization, presented in the VO model approach by (Saabel et al., 2002). It depicts three layers: a universe of modules, a dynamic web of modules with common purpose, and a dynamic organization within the dynamic web responding to a market opportunity or demand.
Figure 12: Three layers in the VO model (Saabel et al, 2002)
Furthermore, (Saabel et al., 2002) provides an integrated model of the structure and process perspective of a VO, presented in Figure 13. It transfers the module view into the concept of VOs, denoting information technology as an essential part of the organization. The model also defines the level of ownership among the participants, in the three layers, to respectively: actors, members and partners.
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Figure 13: Model towards a Virtual Organization (Saabel et al., 2002)
3.9 Examples of Virtual Organizations
There are many different examples of VOs depicted in the literature, and some of the most discussed VOs are: • Rosenbluth International Alliance (cf. Miller et al., 1993) • Virtuelle Fabrik (cf. Katzy et al., 1996) • Sigma The latter will be described in this section, along with a short discussion of issues and experiences related to it. The example is included here because it relates the concepts of project and VO, and it is easy to map the VO characteristics to this organization. Sigma is a training and consulting company operating nationwide in Germany. It consists of freelancing consultants and trainers who build small or large teams to
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work on projects. The organization is considered what (Picot et al., 1996) describe as a team-oriented VO. The partners in Sigma work geographical dispersed from their home offices. Some work full-time or nearly full-time for Sigma, and others are appointed temporarily if their core competencies are needed on a project. Project managers staff a new project by recruiting from Sigma partners via acquaintance or recommendation. The work processes within Sigma are further described in section 3.10. The organization applies to many of the VO characteristics. Projects are carried out by legally independent freelancers, combining their core competencies for a temporary project and selling the end-product to a customer under the label of Sigma. The VO has a flat hierarchy, and communication and co-operation is based on Information and Communication Technology, through a system called SigSys. (Rittenbruch et al., 1998) provide an empirical study of the organization, sharing the experiences and suggestions to the design of technology extracted from their in-depth interviews with Sigma partners. The problems identified during the empirical studies are organized in two problem categories: lack of support with regard to organizational requirements, and general problems regarding the use of SigSys. Table 10 presents an overview of the problems related to the use of SigSys.
Table 10: Experienced problems with SigSys Problem category Lack of support with regard to organizational requirements Problems Provision of internal information Establishment of teams Coordination of activities Availability of organizational resources Causing factors Visibility of activities, decisions, and organization structure. Availability of skill information. No direct support for coordination, except e-mail and discussion groups. Independent freelancers, thus not obliged to provide general resources to the rest of the organization.
General problems regarding the use of SigSys
Acceptance of the system, and lack of participation. Subjective system relevance. Variety of how the partners used the system. Request for appointments only gave a few responses.
Heterogeneity of use
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The experiences from this study serve as a model for designing ICT for these kinds of VOs today. Many of these problems are also discussed as challenges to concurrent engineering in section 5.2.
3.10 Knowledge Management / Work processes
Knowledge Management (KM) is closely related to the concept of VOs. The widely accepted working definition of KM is available from the WWW Virtual Library on Knowledge Management1: "Knowledge Management caters to the critical issues of organizational adaptation, survival, and competence in face of increasingly discontinuous environmental change... Essentially, it embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings." (www.kmnetwork.com)
3.10.1 Knowledge Management and VOs
The founder of this library, Dr. Yogesh Malhotra, provides discussions on different issues related to KM and VOs in (Malhotra, 2000). The core competencies in VOs are mostly human capital, or the knowledge the partners bring into the organization. KM is about making the best use of the knowledge that is available to an organization, and creating new knowledge in the process. (Lemken et al., 2000) describe VOs as typical knowledge organizations, and present a list of reasons why these organizations depend heavily on effective KM: • They are competitive by bundling capabilities and competencies, and selling their know-how. • The knowledge resources of participants are unknown at the start of collaboration. • People leave the organization and take their knowledge with them. • Recently acquired know-how is difficult to preserve at the end of collaboration. • Different viewpoints and requirements of partners make it difficult to represent knowledge.
1. WWW Virtual Library on Knowledge Management: http://www.kmnetwork.com
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Further, (Lemken et al., 2000) point out reasons why KM in VOs is difficult: • Work is carried out under high time pressure. • The dynamic and organizational structure inhibits establishing an infrastructure for knowledge sharing. • For each partner, knowledge sharing is coupled with the risk of losing competitive advantages. • Temporally limited co-operation leads to knowledge lost at the end of a work relation. Storing the knowledge in the organization can be thought of as a kind of organizational memory. This term was introduced by (Stein & Zwass, 1995), and later discussed in (Schwartz et al., 2000) regarding VOs.
3.10.2 Knowledge sharing in Sigma
Sigma, the team-based VO presented in section 3.9, is discussed as a case study in (Lemken et al., 2000) with regards to KM, describing the work processes of this VO in more detail. The organization started as a small network of people who knew each other personally, and gathered in person, by phone or fax to share ideas about collaboration and working practices. The expert network grew, and newcomers made their way into the organization by personal acquaintance with a Sigma member, who guided them and served as their primary contacts. The increasing growth and geographic distribution gradually made it more difficult to rely on personal acquaintance for all members. This resulted in the establishment of regional branches driven by the same goals and ideas as the whole organization. However, this separation led to different cultures emerging in the branches, requiring a system to control the information flow in the organization. The bulletin board system SigSys was introduced to provide the members with discussion groups to exchange information. The knowledge sharing are mostly performed by members pulling information and know-how of other members. The tools for information transfer are mostly phone calls or internet-based e-mail. This mutual exchange of information and knowledge works twofold according to (Lemken et al., 2000), because the communication partners receive as much information as they provide, and the personal relationship between the partners is enforced. Sigma later introduced an Internet knowledge base for the whole organization by the name “Ariadne’s Thread”, where all the partners can pull digitized information and knowledge. While SigSys serves for every day group communication, the
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knowledge base serves as an information repository. Together they improve the communication and coordination in the VO, and arrange for a more effective sharing of knowledge. One of the enabling factors are according to (Lemken et al., 2000), the ability to build flexible teams. They point out two factors essential to support the establishment of teams, namely providing information about skills and experience, and providing support mechanisms to negotiate the appointment of a partner. The most interesting experiences with this organization are to see how a living tradition of oral and personal information distribution cannot simply be replaced by introducing computer-mediated communication and information systems. Mutual information exchange is not granted as the technical systems provide a more anonymous access. (Lemken et al, 2000) conclude that “to achieve sustained knowledge management, all members and levels of the organization must cooperate”. This is made possible if everyone is participating in a process of developing common goals, values and procedures. They emphasize that knowledge sharing requires mutual trust, and further state that “by providing transparency about ongoing activities and openness for participation from all members, a trustful environment is created”.
3.11 Modeling of the Virtual organization
To improve the understanding of the VO concept, models can be developed that describe the different aspects to this type of networked organizations. There are certain assumptions made in traditional organizational modeling, especially with regards to interoperability, which do not hold in the case of VO modeling. For instance, same infrastructure, standards, environment, networking reliability, meaning of roles, are such assumptions.
3.11.1 Situation today
Europe is leading the research on the topic, and there is a growing awareness that the VO developments should be based on contributions of a multidisciplinary nature, from information and communication technologies, socio-economic, operations research, organizational, business management, legal, social security, and ethical area, among others. The situation of VO modeling is summarized in (Camarinha-Matos & Abreu, 2003): • The lack of rigorous and well-founded methods for collaborative networks, collaborative decision-making and collaborative behavior modeling. The focus on short term results and lack of recognition of VO modeling as a scientific discipline in its own right have had a negative effect in effectiveness of results.
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• There are few VO reference models that have achieved wide acceptance. • Most available modeling methods and tools were developed with single (potentially distributed enterprises) in mind and are not suitable for VO. • Methods for integrating different models that offer partial solutions are missing. • Existing approaches to model the social and human capital aspects in collaborative networks (soft modeling) are of poor quality. • There is little support for dynamic ontology creation and maintenance in a networked environment.
3.11.2 Modeling viewpoints
(Camarinha-Matos & Abreu, 2003) identify and characterize different modeling viewpoints of a VO. This work was performed to partition the VO modeling problem in more tractable sub-problems. Figure 14 visualizes four complementary modeling viewpoints of a VO: relationships model, roles model, process model and deontic/values model.
Figure 14: Modeling viewpoints of a VO (Camarinha-Matos & Abreu, 2003)
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Relationship model This model describes the inter-relationship that can occur between components within a network. For instance, the following relationships can be identified: control relationships (identify the authority structure within a network), dependence relationships (identify the topologic dependences between agents), ownership relationships (define the boundaries of each agent), and peer relationships (identify agents at the same level). Roles model This model describes all roles and their positioning within the network structure. A role model implicitly defines a topology of interactions and can describe a network structure in terms of “master role” and “slave role”. Process model This model focuses in dynamic courses of events. Some generic concepts such as activity and actor, time dependencies such as equal, during, starts, finishes, and resource-related perspectives such as necessary, sufficient, have to exist. Deontic/values model This model defines constraints for all agents within a network at different levels, such as: computational level (interoperability constraints), organizational level (behavior constraints), economic level (financial constraints), and operational level (dependencies among tasks).
3.11.3 VO reference models
There are numerous existing modeling approaches available today, and they mostly include a definition of a reference model. The reference models support the full range of needs from strategic business management to organizational design, Enterprise Software implementation and software development. The following four models were pointed out by (Katzy & Sung, 2003) as potentially useful reference examples: • The St. Gallen Management Model - general management model. • Value System Designer - organizational process development. • GERAM and related initiatives (e.g. VERAM, CIMOSA) - enterprise integration and system design/enactment. • Rosettanet - information system integration.
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Figure 15 shows the positioning of the modeling approaches with regard to their inherent modeling purposes.
Figure 15: Positioning of modeling approaches
It is a matrix with one dimension being target user (human actors versus computer systems), and the other domain being the type of usage (understanding the enterprise versus enacting it). The model can be viewed as the lower and further left the objective for modeling is positioned, the simpler and easier the models are considered. On the other hand, if the objective is placed in the upper right corner, the more detailed and accurate the models need to be. The St. Gallen Management Model The St. Gallen Management Model was first presented in (Ulrich & Krieg, 1974) and later refined by (Rüegg-Stürm, 2001). The model structures the organization into different important elements, distinguishing configuration from process and evolutionary views of VO modeling. It takes consideration of the context, main stakeholders and their interactions of relevance for the VO (resources, norms and values, concerns and interests) or the environment (society, nature, technology, economy). Value System Designer The Value System Designer (VSD) is an approach to management-oriented business process modeling. It was developed as part of the EU-project TELEflow for designing the processes for new businesses, such as VOs. The model serves as a reference model towards educating the users about typical process flows and to provide a type of checklist of important process elements when modeling the business.
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GERAM Generalized Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology (GERAM) was developed by the IFIP-IFAC task force on Enterprise Integration, analyzing the reference models: CIMOSA, PERA and GRAI-GIM. The model is most recently described in (Bernus, 2002), and it is a generalization of existing architectures and other necessary elements. It facilitates the unification of methods of several disciplines, such as methods of industrial engineering, management science, control engineering, communication and information technology. The important characteristic of GERAM is that it has support for network of enterprises, and its scope can be either part of an enterprise, a single enterprise or a network of enterprises. Rosettanet Rosettanet1 is a non-profit consortium of more than 500 organizations working on developing and implementing open e-business standards and services. It comprises world-leading companies in electronic components, information technology, logistics, semiconductor manufacturing, solution provider and telecommunications. The project delivers definitions called partner interface processes (PIP), which define standards for data exchange between companies, covering all business to business processes. The reference models are Internetenabled and based on XML, and are according to (Katzy & Sung, 2003) an interesting approach to modeling open VOs.
This chapter has presented an overview of the literature related to VOs, and has given answers to the research questions presented in section 1.3. It is not the intention of this literature study to provide yet another definition of the concept. However, as guidance to the reader, our interpretation of the core concepts of this domain is presented below. The interpretation of a VO, as a result of this literature study, is presented in Figure 16. The model is an extension of the “relations of core concepts of Virtual Enterprise” model in (Camarinha-Matos et al., 2003). The new features are the core concepts of a contract, represented by a collection of documents, information and communication technology as a separate core concept, and the dynamic characterization of the network. The reason for including the concept of a contract is based on the contemporary research on VOs described in the next chapter. It also serves as an abstract collaboration agreement between actors in a mobile environment, which will be examined in the latter part of this report.
1. Rosettanet: http://www.rosettanet.org
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Figure 16: Interpretation of the VO concept
The core concepts of the model are: Organization or individual, Dynamic network, Virtual Organization, Information and Communication Technology, Product or service, and Customer. The concept of Contract is modeled as a set of documents describing the concept as an abstract collection of “documents” that constitute the rules and standards for the co-operation in the VO. The circuit of the model aims to describe the life cycle of the organization, from the customer (representing the market opportunity) interacting with the individual or organization, initiating the dynamic network that forms the VO, which again uses ICT to support the delivery of a product or service to the customer.
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VO research initiatives
4. VO research initiatives
This chapter is meant to give an insight in which challenges and issues that have presently caught researchers attention within the field of Virtual Organizations, by presenting an overview of actual research consortiums and their work.
To continue the development in the research on virtual organizations there has been created a European consortium called VOmap1 with the aim at identifying and characterizing the key research challenges needed to fulfill their vision, required constituency, and the implementation model for a comprehensive European initiative on dynamic collaborative virtual organizations. The VOmap project had the objective of establishing a strategic research roadmap for advanced virtual organizations. This section gives a short overview of the vision and the roadmap for the future advanced VOs.
The VOmap vision statement is developed to create new opportunities for businesses to become more competitive in the future global market, and more innovative and risk taking. “In 2015 the majority of organizations and individuals will be part of sustainable collaborative networks that will act as breeding environments for the formation of dynamic virtual organizations, in response to fast changing economic and social conditions.” (Camarinha-Matos, 2003) The vision further focuses on providing: • Well-founded models of collaboration. • Management systems for breeding environments replicable to a large variety of sectors. • Generic and invisible infrastructure and re-utilizable service toolbox, based on interoperability standardization. • Extensive use of pervasive computing. • VO management principles adapted to emerging behavior in complex networks.
1. VOmap: http://www.vomap.org
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VO research initiatives
• Accepted mechanisms to handle innovation and new value systems. • Social responsibility, including “life maintenance”. • Better understanding and handling of VO-related cultural/regional issues. • Definition of moral/ethical code for VOs. • Comprehensive (international) legal frameworks for VOs. “As a result, a strong and cohesive social fabric is built in response to turbulence and uncertainty.” (Camarinha-Matos, 2003) The consortium has instantiated their vision into five main contributing areas: the socio-economic, the business model, the ICT infrastructure, the support services, and the formal theories and models (see Figure 17).
Figure 17: The VOmap vision (Camarinha-Matos, 2003)
4.1.2 The roadmap
The implementation of the roadmap is divided in three phases: • Research and Development (R&D) • Trials • Broad deployment
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VO research initiatives
The phases do not happen in a strict sequential order, but partially overlap. The schedule of implementation is presented in Figure 18.
Figure 18: The VOmap roadmap (Camarinha-Matos, 2003)
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VO research initiatives
This figure gives an overview of which issues and tasks that will occupy the VO research in the future, and is included in this report to describe the status of VO research today.
4.1.3 The consortium
The VOmap consortium consists of a set of core partners and a large support group composed of enterprises (SMEs1 and large companies), sector associations, governmental and non-governmental organizations and other entities with a strong interest in VO development in Europe. An overview is presented in Figure 19.
Figure 19: The VOmap consortium (www.vomap.org)
The project TrustCoM2 was established as a European consortium in the end of 2003 to provide dynamically evolving virtual organizations with a framework for trust, security and contract management,
4.2.1 The mission
The mission of the TrustCoM integrated project is to:
1. SMEs: Small and Medium Enterprises 2. TrustCoM: http://www.eu-trustcom.com
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VO research initiatives
“provide a trust and contract management framework enabling the definition and secure enactment of collaborative business processes within Virtual Organizations that are formed on-demand, self-managing and evolve dynamically, sharing computation, data, information and knowledge across enterprise boundaries, in order to tackle collaborative projects that their participants could not undertake individually or to collectively offer services to customers that could not be provided by the individual enterprises.” (www.eutrustcom.com) To achieve this mission, TrustCoM will conduct multidisciplinary research into complex, adaptive and self-organizing systems.
4.2.2 The objectives
The first objective of the TrustCoM project is to develop the TrustCoM framework defining the architecture, mechanisms and core elements needed for on-demand creation of dynamically evolving scalable VOs. The framework will be supporting: • Establishment of trust relationships. • Autonomic security (confidentiality/privacy, integrity, availability, accountability). • Formation, verification, negotiation and amendment of electronic contracts. • Performance assessment in execution of electronic contracts, and enforcement of trust and security management policies. The conceptual model of the TrustCoM framework is presented in Figure 20.
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VO research initiatives
Figure 20: The TrustCoM framework, conceptual model (www.eu-trustcom.com)
The figure gives an overview of the TrustCoM model, and emphasizes that the foundations of the system are technology, financial and economic issues, and social and legal issues. It describes the three architectural levels: computational, service, and enterprise. On the top, security management, trust management, and contract management provide the secure collaborative business. In addition to the development of the framework, the TrustCoM project aims to develop software tools, and to define and document software engineering methods and resources to assist systems instantiating the framework. They will also provide important contributions in the area of trust and security for networked businesses and governments, and develop new business and socio-economic models necessary to establish stable VOs.
4.2.3 The consortium
The TrustCoM consortium consists of end-users, technology and service providers, and experts in computing, economics and law, from industry, government and academia, who are actively involved in the development of technology and frameworks related to VOs. An overview is presented in Figure 21.
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VO research initiatives
Figure 21: The TrustCoM consortium (www.eu-trustcom.com)
4.3 Other research
European research establishments are highly acknowledged on a global scale within the field of Virtual Organizations and the Networked Organizations domain. Appendix A contains an overview of the ongoing projects within this domain.
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VO research initiatives
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5. Enabling technologies
This chapter provides a brief overview of some of the available technologies that are relevant for enabling collaboration in a VO, and discuss the role of ICT.
Through the last decade, the Internet has brought a new dimension to the way we communicate and exchange information, and the way we collaborate in work processes. The Internet has made a remarkable impact on society, and today it is enabling members in an organization to collaborate independently of time and space barriers. This can be referred to as e-collaboration (Fong, 2004). People are adopting the technology and using the online activities enabled by the Internet in a much larger scale than before. Companies are also looking at the power of the Internet for e-collaboration to create value (Fong, 2004). The simple illustration in Figure 22, adapted from (Fong, 2004), shows the types of online activities undertaken by the Internet users, both adults and children.
Examples: - Online shopping - Online banking - Online bills payment - Teleworking
s ic as B
Co so mm cia un liz ica a ti ti o o n n/
Examples: - Internet telephony - Email - Chatroom
Re c en reat ter i tai on/ nm en
Examples: - Expression of rights - Channel for protest - Feedback
Examples: - Pursuing hobbies - Sharing interests - Casino gaming
Examples: - Sharing of ideas/knowledge - School assignment tools - Teaching aid - Postings to a newsgroup - Research - Reading news
Figure 22: Types of online activities
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The culture of using online activities for collaboration is the foundation for increased use of e-collaboration in companies and an important factor for the emerging of VOs.
5.2 Collaborative Engineering Communities
A Virtual Community is good way to organize semi-formal work interactions between people, dispersed in time and space, collaborating in product development as a VO. This concept is well-known from open source software engineering, but is also used to a great extent in commercial engineering. “Communities can be defined as an association of singles (agents) that share a common language, values and interests and that communicate with each other in roles using electronic media.” (Gronau, 2004) (Gronau, 2004) describes different mechanisms of interaction between people working in distributed systems, and defines a typology for this kind of communities. Communication Communication is defined as exchange of information, where information is considered purpose or target oriented data in the field of business information systems (Gronau, 2004). Coordination Coordination is related to the mechanisms that are needed to handle complex economic systems and to fulfill the system’s purpose. The aim of coordination is to integrate the actions of elements and subsystems to reach the goals of the whole system (Gronau, 2004). Co-operation Co-operation can be defined as the shared production of goods or services between distributed agents, organizational units or organizations (Gronau, 2004). Collaboration The three described mechanisms of interaction, communication, coordination and co-operation, are fulfilled by single elements of distributed systems. (Gronau, 2004) relates the term collaboration to the special case of co-operation when distributed task agents perform a common execution of an action or a set of actions at the same object. For instance, several people working on the same document.
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The typology of communities is provided through a differentiation of groups based on their interaction and their identity. Figure 23, adapted from (Gronau, 2004), shows an overview of the technologies supporting the different communities.
Intensity of interaction
Groupware Portals Newsgroups
Indentity of participant
Figure 23: Differentiation of groups using interaction and identity
Homepages typically contain static information that can be accessed anonymously. They provide pure information and have a low degree of interaction. Intranets are collections of information formatted as web pages for internal organizational use. Intranets are mostly maintained by content management systems (CMS). These systems allow categorization and index generation of its contents. Portals allow an individual access to different information storage vaults like electronic mail, groupware, calendaring systems, document management systems, databases and enterprise resource planning systems. The advantage of portals is that they allow a unique ubiquitous access for a broad range of different applications. Newsgroups are a tool for communication between the community members. The information, sometimes controlled by a moderator, can be exchanged between certain or all group members. Groupware is software that is supporting groups of people working on the same information independent of time or space. The software connects groups over a
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network, and typically include services for sharing calendars, collective writing, email handling, shared database access, electronic meetings with each person able to see and display information to others, and other activities (Gronau, 2004). Figure 24 shows the categorization of collaborative engineering communities, adapted from (Gronau, 2004).
Intensity of interaction
ties uni m om gC in eer gin n eE ativ or Groupware llab Co
Indentity of participant
Figure 24: Categorization of collaborative engineering communities
In addition to several services provided by standard groupware, a system for collaborative engineering communities requires functions for dealing with many different challenges of concurrent engineering in VOs. Table 11 gives an overview of the challenges identified by (Gronau, 2004).
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Table 11: Challenges in concurrent engineering Interaction Communication Challenge Information exchange Description The development engineers need easy access to all the information needed for their development task. Information has to be exchanged across company borders. Firewalls, limited bandwidth and unreliable connections must be covered. Different tools in different companies may lead to incompatible models. The semantic of the models may also vary between the companies. Team members may use different ontologies and terminology for their communication.
Networking and distribution
Product Data Model
Setting up the team
The different competencies and capabilities must be taken into account when setting up a virtual team. Dynamic process generation requires project management tasks to be fulfilled, considering for instance available resources at what time and the profiles of the people involved.
Planning and scheduling
The modeling tools must support multi-user work in addition to private vaults for individual work. Reasoning and negotiation must be assisted in an efficient way, and decisions must be communicated to all participants. The teams are defined dynamically according to the requirements of the actual development phase. The infrastructure for information exchange must be set up quickly to share and manipulate design information.
Collaborative decision making
Teaming and sharing
5.3 Computer Supported Cooperative Work
The previous discussion of technologies can be defined under the collective term Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). While some authors consider CSCW and groupware as synonyms, others claim that groupware refers to the real computer-based systems, and that CSCW focuses on the study of tools and
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techniques of groupware as well as their psychological, social and organizational effects. The differences between these two concepts are expressed in the following way: “CSCW is a generic term, which combines the understanding of the way people work in groups with the enabling technologies of computer networking, and associated hardware, software, services and techniques.“ (Wilson, 1991) There is a unity in the literature on the main challenges of CSCW in VOs as enabling the members to build trust and a shared understanding. These challenges are related to the concept of social capital, described by (Riemer & Klein, 2003). While individual excellence, in terms of human intellectual capital, is the foundation for a VO, social capital is a necessary complement for collaboration in a VO to succeed. Figure 25 shows how (Riemer & Klein, 2003) see the requisites for successful collaboration in a VO.
Domain knowledge Management skills Social skills Ability Successful Collaboration Competence
Individual training & learning
Shared understanding Norms, obligations Trust Willingness Motivation
Figure 25: Successful VO collaboration
Individual training and learning form the human capital, and the group formation constitutes the social capital of the organization. These two concepts complement each other and form competence, ability and motivation in the organization, thereby making the conditions for successful collaboration. Technology for protecting, maintaining and developing the human capital is available today in many different systems, as described in section 5.2. Social capital, on the other hand, is a major issue for many researchers. There has been a lot of different contributions to the topic of trust and staffing in VOs, and among the most recent and interesting publications are (Kasper-Fuehrer & Ashkanasy, 2001; Harvey et al., 2004; Jarvenpaa & Shaw, 1998; Norman et al, 2004; Panteli, 2002; Panteli, 2003; Shin, 2004; Skyrme, 1999).
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A way to support trust in virtual environments is related to the concept of a contract. This is discussed by (Perrin, 2004) among others, proposing a model for contracts in VOs. Trust and contract management are also the key elements of the framework that is being developed in the TrustCoM project described in section 4.2. The importance of the social issues is verified by analyzing case studies in the literature. The results of the empirical studies of (Rittenbruch et al., 1998) and (Bosch-Sijtsema, 2002) stress the importance of CSCW supporting and covering the challenges of concurrent engineering presented in Table 11. As indicated by (Handy, 1995), physical presence of people help foster trust in organizations. Hence, some of the most valuable technologies in VOs are those enabling virtual presence of team members, for instance video conferencing, instant messaging and mobile communication.
5.4 Ubiquitous and Mobile computing
Ubiquitous computing is the term for integrating computation in the environment, rather than having computers which are distinct objects. The concept was founded by the late Mark Weiser, who provided his visions of the future (cf. Weiser, 2002). It is sometimes also referred to as pervasive computing. One of the ultimate goals of ubiquitous computing is to enable devices to sense changes in their environment and automatically adapt and act according to these changes based on our needs and preferences. This future environment is referred to as proactive computing1, and it is predicted to be the next era of computing. As the number of devices in our surroundings increase, it will become impossible to interact directly with each one of them. The vision of this future scenario requires a lot of developments in technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, one of the first steps is to integrate lots of sensors and actuators in the physical environment. This is one of the main research issues in ubiquitous computing today. It is focused around providing high bandwidth at any location, and arranging for ad hoc networking.
5.4.1 Ad hoc Networking
A mobile ad hoc network (MANET) is a self-configuring network of mobile routers connected by wireless links. The union of these forms an arbitrary topology, which may change rapidly and unpredictably. Table 12 shows the properties of ad hoc networking, adapted from (Thonet, 2004).
1. Intel’s Exploratory Research: http://www.intel.com/research/exploratory
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Table 12: Properties of ad hoc networking Property Self-organization Description The network does not rely on a static infrastructure. Network management is not centralized but distributed across the nodes. Each node acts like a relay allowing data to be forwarded on a multi-hop basis. Nodes need to be “fair with each other”. The network is formed on demand and grows upon need. Nodes can join and leave the network anytime and anywhere. Re-routing is automatically performed when the network topology changes. There should not be any single point of failure.
These networks either work in a standalone fashion, or may be connected to the Internet. This configuration is also known as packet radio networks, mesh networks, parasitic networks, and guerilla networks. (Thonet, 2004) There are several different small-scale architectures available for ad hoc networking: • Low power sensor networks (ZigBee1). • Small size networks, cable replacement (Bluetooth2). • Small to medium-size, mobile networks (WLAN3). Large-scale architectures are being developed to enhance the implementation of ad hoc networks: • Ubiquitous sensor networks (“Smart Dust”, cf. Satyanarayanan, 2003) • Integration of multiple technologies.
5.4.2 Mobile computing
Mobile Computing is, according to (Forman & Zahorjan, 1994), “the use of a portable computer capable of wireless networking”. When looking at the trends toward VOs (section 3.6), concepts like pace and globalization are mentioned. These trends, along with mobility and flexibility, characterize the workplace today.
1. ZigBee: http://www.zigbee.org 2. Bluetooth: http://www.bluetooth.com 3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): http://www.wlan.org
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Mobile computing offers, along with ad hoc networking, the ability to work anywhere, anytime. Nomadic computing, as this often is referred to, enables more efficient workers, and creates new work processes. In the literature, these workers are called mobile workers, road warriors or remote workers.
Ubiquitous and Mobile computing are important enabling technologies in the context of this report. Microprocessors, sensors and tags combined with continuous Internet connectivity, make objects intelligent and interactive, and enable what is referred to as Silent Commerce1. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the one of the main enablers of an intelligent environment, where everyday objects are turned into intelligent actors through the use of RFID tags as a sort of advanced barcode. This technology is expected to revolutionize the way we collaborate and interact with the environment, and creates new opportunities and applications for collaborative business environments. Direct or indirect support to work processes from the surroundings, can make them more efficient, create a safer work environment, and possibly be a way to interconnect the actors in VOs.
1. Silent Commerce: http://www.rfida.com/nb/silent.htm
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Part III Own contribution
6. Problem elaboration
This chapter contains an elaboration of the problem definition for this research contribution.
Through a creative analysis of different scenarios, new organizational forms will be compared to the VO taxonomy. By challenging the way we look at VOs today, the contribution can make progress in this field of research. The work will be related to scenarios of everyday collaboration, and features a comparison to the VOs depicted in the literature, and their characteristics. More precisely, the analysis is the result of transferring the discussion of VOs from a business perspective and applying it to more mobile and informal ad hoc collaboration environments.
This section elaborates on the problem definition for the latter part of the report, and describes the work processes of this contribution. Apply the knowledge of VOs to mobile environments The overall focus in this contribution is to relate the concept of VOs to the context of the report, mobile work, and how work processes in mobile computing environments can be improved and assessed. Analyze the work processes in these environments Scenario analysis is used to describe the environments with respect to actors, activities, roles, and rules for co-operation. This part also evaluates the role of technology in the environment, and describes how the users interact with the technological facilities. Analyze the new organizational forms related to the VO taxonomy The characteristics of the organizations in these environments are compared to the VO characteristics extracted from the literature. The analysis is discussed in relations to the VO taxonomy, and experiences from work in VOs are applied to mobile computing environments.
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Enabling technologies The scenarios are analyzed with regards to enabling technologies, and a discussion of how technology can improve and assess the work processes is provided. The role of technology is evaluated not only as a supporting tool, but also as being an actor and part of the organization. Describe future trends of collaboration Future trends are discussed according to the results of the scenario analysis, and enabling technologies. This part focuses on challenges and issues that need to be further examined in research, and describes opportunities for more efficient work processes in future mobile computing environments.
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This part of the report presents different scenarios from everyday life, identified for the discussion of VOs. The selection is a set of scenarios that, at first sight, give a resemblance to the description of a VO, based on its characteristics.
The scenarios are described with regards to actors, roles, activities and goals. A discretional comparison between the scenario and the VO characteristics is also provided, along with a discussion of enabling technologies for each scenario. When discussing the VO characteristics in the scenarios, a reference to the specific characteristics are provided in parenthesis. Due to the mobile and dynamic nature of the scenarios, and the actors for the most part being individuals, the following characteristic are considered fulfilled and omitted from the VO discussions: small sized partners (OC1). The description and analysis of the following scenarios are basically based on our knowledge of the domains. However, we have performed qualitative studies for some of the scenarios to provide a better approach to the domain and a credible and realistic description.
7.2 Traffic accident
This scenario is related to the course of events at the scene of a traffic accident when organizing a rescue operation.
The organization of the rescue action is initialized either by one of the involved, possibly injured, an eyewitness, or the first person to arrive the site of the accident. The line of actions starts when this initializer evaluates the condition of the patients and performs an emergency phone call. This involves the rescue party in the organization, and the following procedure of operation is a worked in line of action.
The scenario involves the following actors: the injured persons, the rescue initializer, the coordinator at the emergency call center, the policemen blocking the road to prevent more accidents and leading the on-site operation, the firemen
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putting out any fires and helping to release the injured from the car wreck, the ambulance personnel medically treating the injured, spectators and eyewitnesses.
7.2.3 VO comparison
This organization is working towards a common goal: rescue the injured, bring them safely to the hospital and save lives. Secondary goals involve: investigating the accident, clearing the scene, and handling the spectators and news reporters in a good way (see section 7.3). The life time of this organization is temporary (OC15), starting with the identification of the scene and ending when the injured arrives at the hospital. The independent actors (KC2) with core competencies (KC1) and different areas of responsibility are brought into the organization at the most sensible time (OC10) to make it run smoothly and achieve their common goal. The participation of spectators and eyewitnesses make the boundaries of the organization vague or fluid (OC2). The line of action in these emergencies is well-known to all the actors in the organization. All members are aware of their responsibility, and the co-operation is based on trusting (OC6) that the other actors do their best to complete the mission. Due to the spontaneous establishment of the emergency organization, the actors may never have cooperated with one another before, thus having semistable relations (OC3). They all have shared loyalty (OC9) to the desire of saving lives, and to certain extent shared ownership (OC7) in the organization. Their attendance in this organization has only partial mission overlap (OC17) with their normal activities, with the exception of the coordinator at the emergency call center. Equality of partners (OC16) is not as explicit in this organization as in many others. Although the actors are highly dependent of each other, the police control the progress at the site of the accident and decides when to transport the injured to the hospital in agreement with the ambulance personnel. Since the police, along with the ambulance personnel, have the highest influence on the outcome of the situation and the success of the operation, they are considered the core partners of the organization. Shared leadership (OC8), to a certain extent, corresponds to this organization as the leadership shifts among the participants over time. First, the initiator takes control and leads the operation until the emergency call center takes over the leadership. They request assistance from the police who take leadership of the operation. The organization is active from the time that the initiator makes the phone call to the emergency call center (KC4). Thus, the actors are geographically dispersed (OC12) for the major part of the time the organization exists. The organization of the actors also leads to a clear distinction between the strategical and operational level (KC6). The coordinator has an overview of the needs, while the actors at the site of the accident fulfill the needs. Through an abstraction, the organization can be viewed as customer based (OC14) as it changes with the needs of the patient.
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This type of organization also lacks some of the VO characteristics. It is not dependent neither on innovation (OC11) nor opportunism (OC4), and the actors can not directly be considered as having shared risks (OC5) in the organization. There exists a hierarchy (KC5) in the organization, and due to the formal composition there is a kind of organization chart (OC13) for this scenario. The core partners can be referred to by the collective term emergency unit, however the organization do not have one identity (KC3).
7.2.4 Roles and rules
In this scenario the roles are almost completely defined in advance. The actors contributing with their core competencies on the site of the accident, are highly trained personnel with drilled skills for handling this kind of operation. The special case in this scenario is the role as the initiator. This person is normally expected to know the procedure of first aid and where to call for assistance. This is an abstract set of rules that is considered common knowledge. However, the stress related to this scene, often result in a improvised handling of the situation, and a pragmatic behavior towards the rules. For instance, in Norway there are three different emergency phone numbers (110, 112, 113) directed to respectively the fire department, the police and the ambulance service. When the initiator is reporting the accident, he often mixes the phone numbers together, possibly calling the police instead of the ambulance. This requires the technology to provide an easy transfer to the correct department. In the US, this problem is covered by offering a single emergency phone number that is common for all departments, 911.
The fact that the actors are geographically dispersed for the major part of the operation, require a highly reliable communication system and a comprehensive use of information and communication technology to enable the coordination of such an essential operation. Today the coordinators use a system for handling the phone calls and distribute messages to the other departments that are needed in the organization. The emergency centers are equipped with a kind of intercom to the emergency vehicles, to organize the rescue operation and coordinate the required resources. Today the emergency phone call from the initiator is usually conducted with a mobile phone. In the future, the mobile technology arrange for major improvements and efficiency in handling this kind of scenario. Services for determining the location of the mobile phone are continuously being developed with more accuracy, helping the coordinators in determining the actual position of the accident. Several mobile phones are also equipped with a camera, enabling a photographic portrayal of the scene, helping the coordinators determine the extent of the accident. Sensors can provide valuable context information about the environment, and behave as roadside assistance in case of traffic accidents.
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The organization in this scenario has many similarities with a VO. However, it lacks two key characteristics (KC3, KC5) in addition to one of the denoted primary characteristics (OC11). The alliance includes a set of core partners, and in reference to the models of virtuality it has most resemblance to the star-alliance model.
7.3 Crime scene investigation
This scenario is related to crime scene investigations, and the work processes and actors involved in solving a crime or identifying the course of events related to an accident.
The organization is established when a crime or an accident is identified. This scenario discuss the events that are part of the investigation towards achieving the goal of solving the crime, and it starts when the injured are transported away from scene or the casualties are declared dead. The police are responsible for leading the operation at the crime scene, and in addition to securing the scene, they have to handle any spectators or representatives from the media that may show up. Anything that could disturb, or anyone who can interfere with the investigation must be taken care of along with important witnesses and the relatives of the involved. The tasks that are part of the crime scene investigation include cordoning the scene, combing the ground, examining potential evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses, clearing the area. According to the extent of the accident or seriousness of the crime, external resources and partners are brought into the organization.
The scenario involves the following actors: the police leading the operation, criminal investigators combing the area and photographing the scene, eyewitnesses, spectators, news and media representatives, crane vehicle personnel to help clearing the site, and a headquarter team of experts analyzing the details of the investigation.
7.3.3 VO comparison
The life time of this organization is temporary (OC15), from the actual identification of the crime until the offending party is convicted and the crime is solved. The organization that is formed at the crime scene is a dynamic network (OC10) of independent partners (KC2). To a certain extent they all have core competencies
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(KC1) towards solving the crime, and their participation in this organization has only partial mission overlap (OC17) with their normal activities. The police and the criminal investigators are the core partners (OC16) of this organization. Shared loyalty (OC9) is a complex issue in this organization. The eyewitnesses can possibly make a false statement, requiring the investigators to take this into account in their investigations. Thus the issue of trust (OC6) has a special position in this scenario. The media and news reporters represent the opportunism (OC4) in this scenario as they are dependent on innovation (OC11) in the form of making headlines and publish breaking news. This often leads them to smarten up the story and portray made up stories from the incident, possibly interfering with the ongoing investigation. This part of the organization is customer based (OC14) as offering news to the people, while the rest of the organization can be considered customer based as revealing the truth behind the incident, to the relatives and the surrounding world. The organization has vague or fluid boundary (OC2). A question that arises is whether all of the individuals present at the crime scene are really part of the organization, as some appear to work against the common goal of solving the crime. This uncertainty of the partnerships in the organization is a major argument against the characteristic of the organization having one identity (KC3). Most crime scene investigations consist of a field team as described above, and another team of experts working geographically dispersed (OC12) from the scene, assisting the operation and processing the details from the crime scene. The latter team can also influence the strategical level of the operation based on the collected evidence and identifying the essential information required for making progress in the case. One of their tasks is also to map the situation by creating a kind of organization chart (OC13). The communication between the distributed teams is strongly based on Information Technology (KC4). The core partners therefore have shared leadership (OC8) in the organization, and there is a clear distinction between the strategical and operational level (KC6). Some of the core partners may have worked together on many cases. However, taken into consideration the diversity of the actors in this scenario, the participants must be considered having semi-stable relations (OC3). The trust issues, mentioned earlier in this scenario, are handled by following strict routines for conducting and evaluating the interviews. This organization does not completely fulfill all the VO characteristics. Shared risks (OC5) and shared ownership (OC7) are not characteristics of this organization, due to the diversity of actors and their possibly conflicting interests.
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7.3.4 Roles and rules
In this scenario the roles can divided in two groups, those who contribute to the investigation and those who may interfere with the investigation. Like the traffic accident scenario, this is also a scenario with a set of predefined roles. The role as operational leader is shared among the entities that are empowered with this responsibility. The investigators have different roles according to their field of expertise, although their common task is to gather information about the incident. The most interesting role is their interaction with eyewitnesses and suspects. This is usually executed as an interview with strict routines for securing the legal protection of the interviewee. In some countries, the investigators are allowed to create setups in order to provoke the suspects into revealing themselves. This is illegal in Norway, but may occur to some extent in certain heavy crime environments. It is also considered illegal to interfere with the investigation on any level. This is advantageous to the work of solving the crime, as people tend to assist the investigation and contribute with observations and testimonies.
At the crime scene, the investigators use different technological facilities for analyzing the course of events leading to the incident, for instance cameras, measuring instruments, voice recorders, mobile phones and laptop computers communicating with the geographical dispersed team of experts. This is an interesting area of technological research, concentrated on equipping the field investigators with the best tools for examining the ground, and providing a secure and reliable communication with the headquarters. Sensors can also here provide valuable context information about the environment, and behave as roadside assistance in case of traffic incidents, or elsewhere in the case of a crime scene investigation. This information can possibly describe the course of events, and solve the crime. For instance, they can determine the exact time of the crime, and give information about how many persons that were present at the time of the crime.
The organization is this scenario has a lot in common with the previous scenario. It lacks two key characteristics (KC3, KC5) in addition to one of the denoted primary characteristics (OC11). This scenario is to a certain extent considered a continuation of the traffic accident or similar scenarios, and will be discussed jointly in the end of this chapter.
7.4 Voluntary communal work
This scenario is related to the distinctively Norwegian phenomenon “dugnad”, or similar to voluntary communal work in English. This kind of collaboration is usually
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performed in voluntary organizations, for instance school bands or athletic clubs for children and youths.
The work to be performed can vary to a great extent, for instance painting the exterior of a building, cleaning and renovation of office space, guard duty or assembly-line work. The engagement of the volunteers results in a group of individuals with different core competencies. However, the assignment of tasks is usually performed in the way that the initiator, normally taking the role as coordinator, asks the group for volunteers to each specific task. The result is an efficient distribution of work, but possibly with many participants not finding a use for their competencies.
The scenario involves the following actors: the initiator, the voluntary workers and representatives from the employer. The initiator is a representative from the voluntary organization, usually a board member. His responsibility is, in the case of a school band, to send out an inquiry to the parents of the musicians, asking them to participate in a voluntary effort to earn some money for the school band. The goal is to get hold of enough income to provide the band with the necessary resources to continue its voluntary work.
7.4.3 VO comparison
The life cycle of this organization is temporary (OC15), starting with the initiative and task specification and ending when the job is finished. The organization is considered having one identity (KC3). However, the participants may have built up relations over time through the same sort of voluntary work. Their relations with each other are nevertheless considered semi-stable (OC3). The concept of voluntary work is interesting in the way that it requires shared loyalty (OC9) among the participants. The co-operation is based on trust (OC6) even though the actors are not working geographically apart (OC12), but it is likely to assume that some of them know each other quite well in advance. As mentioned in the description, the participants have different core competencies (KC1) that are not always made the most of in this organization. It is also necessary that each participant share their qualifications with the group, thus enabling the group to take advantage of their qualities. The first part of the life cycle in this organization involves defining the tasks to be performed and the necessary qualifications. Thus, the organization has a distinction between a strategical and an operational level (KC6). The process of requesting volunteers is mostly carried out through the use of ICT (KC4), however this is not essential.
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The organization has equality of partners (OC16) since they are all working on a voluntary basis, and there is no organization chart (OC13). The participants can be viewed as independent actors (KC2) with partial mission overlap (OC17) from their normal work. In the organization, there is no hierarchy (KC5) and the tasks are performed with shared leadership (OC8) among the participants. In the case of a school band, the children are members of the organization, while the parents are participating in the voluntary organization to provide the resources. This type of work gives the actors shared risks (OC5) and shared ownership (OC7) to the work that is performed and the organization as a whole. To a certain extent the organization can be characterized as dependent on innovation (OC11) and opportunism (OC4) based on the fact that it exploits opportunities of work to earn money. The tasks are mostly custom defined by the employer for this kind of organization, thus considered customer based (OC14). However, this is in an abstracted notion of the characteristics and different from the product development often related to VOs. Although the participants may change tasks during work, the organization is not considered a dynamic network (OC10), since the involved workers just swap tasks within the same group. Thus, the boundaries of the organization are not considered vague or fluid (OC2).
7.4.4 Roles and rules
The roles in this scenario are not evident, except from the role as coordinator. This role involves setting up the organization and defining the tasks. The other participants are generally self-appointed to tasks based on motivation and competence. All the actors act in accordance with the rules denoted by the coordinator. The rules normally exist as an abstract contract within the organization on how they should work and behave towards the other participants and the tasks to be performed.
The process of setting up the organization is the only part of the life cycle where the actors are geographically dispersed. The requests for voluntary participation among the parents in the school band are mostly distributed through mail, e-mail or by phone. These are mainly the technologies used in this scenario. However, there are possibilities of enabling the organization with several other technological services. For instance, ICT can be used to register the volunteers automatically when they respond. Another idea, related to this process, is to employ a system for distributing a list of tasks to be performed and the required competencies. If the main task is large with many subtasks, the coordinator can use project management software to manage the work progress. After the work is done, it is common to communicate the results to the organization. This can be done by
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publishing a notice in a newsletter to the members, or via a webpage with internal member access.
The organization in this scenario has all the key characteristics of a VO, and the only primary characteristic partly fulfilled is (OC12). This organization has many similarities with the Sigma organization discussed in section 3.9, and can be considered a VO.
7.5 Experts in Team
This scenario is related to the interdisciplinary course “Experts in Team”1, that is a mandatory part of the Masters Degree at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
The students work in group of five persons towards a goal of their own choice within their appointed subject. The group is part of a village, consisting of a staff and other groups sharing the same subject. The course is meant to challenge the students in collaborating with people with other professions or technical background, different manners, and contradictory understanding of the subject.
The scenario involves the following actors: the students performing the tasks, the course staff coordinating the deliverables, and the partners appointed by the group.
7.5.3 VO comparison
The life cycle of this organization is temporary (OC15) and is determined by the scope of the course. The core competencies (KC1) of the students create the foundation for their effort towards achieving their goal. The group is a network of independent actors (KC2) with semi-stable relations (OC3) and partial mission overlap (OC17) from their normal student activities as the course is a fourth of the education in a semester. The organization appears as one identity (KC3) in the school environment. Most groups work on problems related to innovation (OC11) and ideas dependent on opportunism (OC4), thus in many cases characterizing the organization as
1. Experts in Team: http://www.eit.ntnu.no
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customer based (OC14). Their work is evaluated both on the innovative results, and their analysis of the group dynamics. There are several interesting dimension to view upon in this scenario. One of the most important issues is shared loyalty (OC9) and trust (OC6). The popularity of this course is very varying among the students. This results in a wide difference in the level of ambition the students bring into the organization, and further affects their shared risk (OC5), the evaluation of their work in terms of a grade. They all have shared ownership (OC7) to the reports that are prepared as the result of their work. While writing the report, the students are often geographically dispersed (OC12), requiring ICT to collaborate and to communicate internally in the organization (KC4). However, parts of the education and work in this organization are set to a certain day of the week for the whole village. This means that most of the work is carried out in a colocated setting, with personal contact among the participants. The equality of the partners (OC16), here in the sense of having the same qualifications for accomplishing the course, leads to other interesting properties. The students have shared leadership (OC8) and most often definitely no hierarchy (KC5). However, it is normal to create an organization chart describing the roles in the group (OC13). The composition of the organization is almost made for conflicts to arise. One of the main intentions of the course is to challenge the students by establishing organizations with unequal professional background. The organization has a distinction between the strategical and the operational level (KC6). Some of the strategic level is given by the course staff and the initial project description for the village, and the rest is planned by the group to achieve their goal. The operational level is entirely carried out by the students, and external experts are occasionally brought in as partners, to some extent making the organization a dynamic network (OC10). However, the boundaries of the organization are not considered vague or fluid (OC2).
7.5.4 Roles and rules
The allocation of roles in the organization is worked out by the students in the initial phase of their work. It is interesting to note that due to the equality of the partners, and the individual desire not to be too prominent in the group and accordingly become unpopular among the other participants in the organization, it is common for the group not to assign a leader. This works very well for some organizations. However, the majority suffer from vague decision making. In addition to the rules denoted by the course staff, the group must form an agreement on co-operation in which they describe how they will work together and rules for how certain behavior will be dealt with. This kind of contract between the participants will enhance the collaboration in the group and lead to greater respect and trust in the group.
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In this scenario, ICT is essential for producing the reports, and to a great extent, the foundation for communication between the participants. The technologies used in the group are mainly a shared workspace, e-mail, instant messaging and mobile phones. Because of the flat structure in the organization, and the refusal to making decisions, it can be helpful to employ decision supporting tools. In consequence of the extensive use of mobile phones among the students, a market opportunity emerges for mobile decision support. This is related to the fact that a great deal of appointments in organizations involving students and youths, are negotiated through a series of SMS1 messages or phone calls to all participants. A way to make this procedure more efficient is to send a broadcast request that the participants can vote over.
The organization in this scenario has all the key characteristics of a VO, but does not complete fulfill the primary characteristics (OC12) as the group is co-located most of the working time. It is very similar to the previous scenario of voluntary work, but the fact that the actors are obliged to participate in the organization is an interesting dimension to the organization. The scenarios will be discussed jointly in the end of this chapter.
This scenario is related to an arbitrary segment of normal traffic. It contains a discussion on how each actor behaves and adapt to the traffic.
Describing traffic as an organization is a complex matter. Thus, this scenario describes a segment of traffic and the possible actors in this organization. The boundaries can be set by geographically limit area of operation for the scenario. In that respect, the organization is established when a vehicle enters the area, and ends when there is no traffic in the area. The superior goal of the participants in this organization is to get from A to B in a secure and effective way. This requires each actor to follow a set of rules and cooperate with the other actors in order to handle any situation that may arise. There are often a great diversity of actors appearing in this organization, each with a set of individual goals in addition to the superior organizational goal.
1. SMS: Short Message Service
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The scenario involves the following actors: regular drivers, professional transport workers, pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles, police patrols, public transport and taxies.
7.6.3 VO comparison
The organization in this scenario is temporary (OC15), based on the geographical delimitation as initial condition. The organizational boundaries are still considered vague or fluid (OC2) and there is no organization chart (OC13). It is a highly dynamic network (OC10) of independent actors (KC2), to a great extent having core competencies (KC1) towards operating in this organization. There is a distinction between a strategical and operational level (KC6), respectively planning the best route and then carrying out the plan. For almost every actor the strategical planning of the route is a dynamic process changing continuously according to incidents in the traffic or for instance input from technological facilities (KC4). The exception is public transport, which usually follows a predetermined route, and is also the only actor that has complete mission overlap in addition to the professional transport worker. The rest of the actors are considered having partial mission overlap (OC17). Trust (OC6) and shared loyalty (OC9) are main issues in this organization. In principle, every participant in the organization act according to the general traffic rules. These rules involve special exceptions and regulations for certain professional actors, for instance public transport or emergency vehicles. Thus the organization is characterized as having core partners (OC16). However, the major part of the organization, consists of regular drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. These are the most unpredictable participants in the organization, and the largest loyalty issue of this scenario. Many drivers interpret the rules as they want, and behave inexcusable in the traffic, endangering the other participants. For instance, driving on a red light or driving in a drunk or intoxicated condition. Thus, they all have shared risks (OC5) in the traffic. As each participant should know their rights and responsibilities, the organization can be considered having shared ownership (OC7) and shared leadership (OC8). This is more precisely described with analyzing a specific traffic situation: Consider a road intersection with four perpendicular roads, no traffic light, and four regular drivers arriving at the same time. They are all planning to continue straight on, resulting in a situation where all drivers has give away restrictions. Adjusting the notion of geographical dispersion from separate buildings, to separate vehicles, this organization is considered geographical dispersed (OC12).
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The situation depicted above, requires one of the drivers to take initiative to go on. While doing so, the group of drivers at the intersection must collaborate and agree to an abstract contract among them, deciding the course of events. These decisions are usually made based on experience or convenience, as the group has semi-stable relations (OC3). There is a sort of formal hierarchy in this organization. However, if the geographical area is narrowed, this organization usually consists only of regular drivers, and with that the organization is characterized in equality of partners (OC16) and no hierarchy (KC5). The professional traffic actors are customer based (OC14), of which the taxies are considered offering mass-customization, and are also dependent on opportunism (OC4). The VO characteristics, that do not closely fit this organization, are dependency on innovation (OC11) and the characteristic of one identity (KC3), although the organization is referred to as traffic in a collective term.
7.6.4 Roles and rules
The is a wide diversity of roles in this scenario, police patrols managing the traffic, professional actors working in the traffic, and regular drivers more or less casually present. They all act according to a set of rules, and are expected to know their rights and responsibilities as a results of their training. However, individuals acting pragmatic towards the rules, as a results of cultural differences, driving under the influence of alcohol, or simply by choice, may call for pragmatic actions by the individuals nearby in order to adapt to the situation and prevent an accident.
The use of technology in this scenario is mainly related to facilities for providing the driver with information about the traffic situation. This is used on a strategical level in determining the best route from A to B, and can typically involve traffic broadcast messages over the radio, SMS services for locating police patrols along the road or car computers including road maps and navigation systems. The driver uses the different technologies as input when making the decision on which route to choose. There are also car navigation systems providing suggestions on which way to go based on the shortest route on the map. In the future one may see computers analyzing the traffic in real time, taken into account accidents, traffic lights, rush hour traffic, and the density of traffic in general. This offers individual guidance, as opposed to broadcast messages over radio that may lead all the traffic to another route, increasing the traffic density at the suggested available road. Automatic traffic management and control are available today through traffic lights, and to some extent by using dynamic and electronic traffic signs.
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Making intelligent vehicle applications is an active research area nowadays. Different types of embedded sensors provide a rich set of context information in these intelligent vehicles, like positioning and obstacles sensors, and sensors indicating road and weather conditions. Additional driver assistance can be provided by accident warning, or security distance warning. One of the goals of providing car-to-car communication is automatic co-operation between the vehicles to assist the driver in critical situations. It can also provide interaction between remote cars. These technologies also open for a sort of “black-box” logging, like we see in airplanes today. This will help the investigations related to traffic accidents in determining the course of events prior to the incident. An automatic traffic management and individual route guidance are technologies that can improve the traffic flow and prevent traffic jams. Thus, making the traffic more secure and more efficient, and accomplish the superior goal of this scenario.
The organization in this scenario has the highest degree of virtuality in the notion of substitutability and autonomy of virtual links. However, it lacks the key characteristic (KC3), and the primary characteristic (OC11). This naturally gives a resemblance to the first two scenarios, which should be correct as they all, to a certain extent, operate within the same domain.
Table 13 presents an overview of how the VO characteristics correspond to each scenario. X denotes that the characteristic applies for the scenario, with the exception of OC15, OC16 and OC17 that have a special annotation described in the table. The primary characteristics (see Table 6) are indicated with bold face.
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Table 13: VO characteristics in the scenarios Characteristic KC1 Based on core competencies KC2 Network of independent organizations KC3 One identity KC4 Based on Information Technology KC5 No hierarchy KC6 Distinction between a strategical and an operational level OC1 Small sized partners OC2 Vague/fluid boundaries OC3 Semi-stable relations OC4 Dependent on opportunism OC5 Shared risks OC6 Based on trust OC7 Shared ownership OC8 Shared leadership OC9 Shared loyalty OC10 Dynamic network OC11 Dependent on innovation OC12 Geographical dispersed OC13 No organization chart and meta-organization OC14 Customer based and masscustomization OC15 Lifespan of co-operation: temporary (T) vs. permanent (P) OC16 Balance of power: Equality of partners (EP) vs. core partners (CP) OC17 Mission-overlap: partial (PM) vs. complete (CM)
Traffic accident Crime scene investigation Voluntary communal work Experts in team Traffic
X X -X -X X X X --X X X X X -X -X T CP PM
X X -X -X X X X --X -X X X -X -X T CP PM
X X X X X X X -X X X X X X X -X -X X T EP PM
X X X X X X X -X X X X X X X X X --X T EP PM
X X -X X X X X X X X X X X X X -X X X T CP PM
Based on the analysis, the five scenarios presented in this chapter can be grouped into two main categories: structured scenarios, and ad hoc mobile scenarios. Table 14 shows the classification of the scenarios.
Table 14: Classification of scenarios Structured scenarios Voluntary communal work Experts in team Ad hoc mobile scenarios Traffic accident Crime scene investigation Traffic
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7.7.1 Structured scenarios
The structured scenarios distinguish themselves by applying to the VO model in its traditional form. However, they are special by the fact that the actors participate voluntarily, and work non-profit to serve the organization. It resembles the organization of collaborative engineering communities, for instance open source software development. The organization can be considered a team-based VO, working on projects. It has equality of partners with partial mission overlap, thus classifying the organization as a “soft VO”. Challenges and issues related to enabling technologies for these traditional VOs are discussed in Chapter 5. See also the description of Sigma in section 3.9.
7.7.2 Ad hoc mobile scenarios
The ad hoc mobile scenarios are the most interesting in the context of this report. The analysis shows that they are less dependent on innovation and opportunism, and have a higher degree of dynamic organization. They do not have one common identity, and the presence of core partners leads to a hierarchical structure. However, due to the large amount of lateral communication, this structure relates to the model of an adhocracy presented in section 3.5.1. The organization can be considered a type of VO, under the definition of a network of independent partners with complementary core competencies working towards a common goal, based on ICT and formalized co-operation. This applies to the integrated VO model presented in Figure 13. The characterization of ad hoc alliances as VOs is useful in the way that we can employ the mentality of the traditional VO into the new environment, using the experience to create adequate solutions and facilities to improve the work processes. Ad hoc alliances demand more flexible technologies and ubiquitous services, due to their operation in a nomadic environment. Emerging technologies are constantly being developed to fit the requirements of these mobile working environments, mainly focusing on providing high bandwidth and secure communication from any possible location. In our opinion, the opportunities of improving the work processes in these organizational environments depends on developing and employing an adequate knowledge management. The use of context information and arrangements for ad hoc knowledge sharing are essential to make these organizations more efficient. For instance, in the case of the traffic environment and incidents related to it, trust is established through the social status of the core partners. The uniforms and prominent vehicles signal authority, and their competencies are printed in the other actor’s minds through the common comprehension and knowledge of their responsibilities. This knowledge is the foundation of successful collaboration, because there is an openness of the intentions and goals of each partner toward
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their participation in the organization. The challenge is to provide the same knowledge sharing in alliances where the skills of the partners are not well-known to the rest of the organization in advance.
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Extension of the VO taxonomy
8. Extension of the VO taxonomy
This chapter contains the results of the creative effort, and presents the extension of the VO taxonomy based on this contribution.
8.1 Ad hoc alliances
The study of the scenarios presented in this report is mainly related to mobile scenarios and ad hoc alliances. This is done intentionally to challenge the way we discuss VOs. This approach has a finer granularity than most of the literature reviewed in the state-of-the-art part, as the focus is on individuals rather than companies and organizations. The discussions in the previous chapter conclude that some scenarios of ad hoc alliances can be considered a type of VO. This interpretation of the VO leads to some changes in the evaluation of VO characteristics, for instance emphasizing the dynamic network characteristic, and to some extent de-emphasizing the importance of organization for innovation and opportunism. Mobile Ad Hoc VOs (MAHVOs) are temporary dynamic networks of independent actors with complementary core competencies, working towards a common goal in a nomadic environment. The co-operation is based on Information and Communication Technology as the main facilitator for sharing knowledge and fostering trust. In the notion of MAHVOs, it is important to distinguish between VOs that operate in mobile environment e.g. remote workers, and alliances that are formed ad hoc in a nomadic environment. The latter is the one depicted in this research. The geographical dispersion of the actors in MAHVOs is limited to almost situated action. However, it has the same challenges towards trust between the participants, and uses information and communication technology in the process of forming an organization with shared loyalty. These VOs are much more complex than the traditional VOs explored in the literature. The fact that they emerge and operate in a nomadic environment, demands for a more flexible coordination of activities. We see a transition from explicit coordination e.g. traditional management, or even use of information and communication technology, to organizations with implicit coordination e.g. abstract contract management in the road intersection described in the traffic scenario (section 7.6.3). Challenges and issues related to accountability, dependability, and usability of implicit coordination in MAHVOs will be further examined, and applied to example working environments, in the next chapter.
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Extension of the VO taxonomy
The work of studying VOs has identified a new characteristic that is common for all VOs depicted in the literature. In our opinion, team-work is essential for a successful collaboration in VOs, and should be considered a primary characteristic of these organizations. This result in a definition of virtual teams as being a subset of a VO dynamically assigned to specific tasks or projects. The formation can be performed by management or by technology acting as a decentralized broker, based on knowledge of the competencies of the available actors. Decentralized broking is an even more virtual form of alliance than the models of virtuality presented in section 3.8.1. It is an extension of the Virtual Broker, where the environment autonomously adapts to multiple users and organizational units, acting as a broker in terms of forming the organization and coordinating roles and activities. It is a new way to look at the organizational structure of VOs, adapted to this type of ad hoc alliances. Figure 26 presents the concept of a decentralized broker in regards to the models of virtuality previously discussed.
Figure 26: Decentralized broker
This model aims to describe how the environment, with own intelligent sensors or computers participating as actors, supports coordination of activities in the VO. The environment partners with known structures of ad hoc alliances, modeled as a star-alliance, and contributes both as regular actors, and as suppliers in the sense
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Extension of the VO taxonomy
of supporting formation, knowledge sharing, and coordination. According to the role and influence of the surroundings in the VO, the environment can also in some cases be considered a lead actor, possibly taking initiative to the formation of a VO, e.g. car-to-car communication (section 7.6.5), and the visions of ubiquitous and proactive computing (section 5.4). The participation of the technological actors in the organization may also be disbanded, either because there is no longer a need for technological support, or possibly due to disrupting signals and loss of connection. The role of each actor can change from actor to lead actor and back again, and also be disposed when its intentions and goals have been fulfilled. The different roles may appear again in the organization as so fits the activities and work processes, like in the traditional VOs. This dynamic characteristic of the organization demands for a management of which actors that are to be included and disbanded from the organization. As computers in the environment has part of the coordinating responsibility, they have to take into account the needs of the organization and the competencies of the available actors. Furthermore, they need to take actions and apply roles based on an opportunistic model to make the work processes as efficient as possible. This identifies new challenges to the enabling technologies in VOs, in regards to co-operation and competition. Two computerized actors are cooperative if they have complementary roles, which means that they make more profit working together than by working individually. Conversely, the actors are considered competitive if they have the same role, which means that the profit created by the one actor is negatively affected by the appointment of the other actor. An opportunistic model and machine-learning of behaviors and strategies can contribute in meeting this proposed challenge.
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Extension of the VO taxonomy
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9. Future trends
This chapter describes some thoughts about the future of Mobile Ad Hoc VOs, and applies the discussion to an example business scenario.
Emerging technologies are enabling new ways of interacting with our surroundings, and may foster new ways of creating smart/intelligent environments that are able to autonomously adapt to multiple users simultaneously based on user preferences, and information and service needs (both stated and unstated). Such environments may enable co-operation and coordination between actors in dynamic environments in new and unpredictable ways. Situated work can be better supported because of the ability of the environment to sense users, actions, wishes and requirements. This affects the work processes in MAHVOs, as objects and software are becoming actors and part of the organization. The intelligent objects can contribute with valuable context information to the organization, and possibly take actions on our behalf. The interaction and team-work in organizations consisting of both humans and computers, demands an innovative way of coordinating the activities. A transition from explicit to a more implicit coordination is required to enable efficient work processes in these environments.
9.2 Working environments
The future working environments have a high demand of trust, and some of the main challenges are penetration of acceptance and privacy concerns. People must learn to accept and trust the computer’s position in the organization, and gradually adapt to this new environment. To foster trust in these intelligent environments, experiences from work in VOs can be examined and applied to the organization. The computers take roles previously held by humans, and must be handled in a similar way. The computers may take part in the coordination of activities, supporting the implicit model of coordination as a de-centralized broker. They can help the process of restructuring the plan of activities, according to unexpected changes in the course of events. For instance, consider a large construction site with hundreds of workers and a large amount of activities taking place at the same time. The time limit of operation is already squeezed, and sudden events, unexpected or identified during risk analysis, may demand radical change in the sequence of activities. Computer systems can automatically analyze the situation, and suggest the best line of action in co-operation with the computers in the
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organization. Subsequently, communicating the changes of activities to all the involved actors with an individual set of activities to be performed for each actor. In this process of coordination, the system needs to have focus on accountability, dependability and usability. The relevance of these issues are further discussed below. Accountability All actors, including computers, must be aware of their responsibilities and roles in the organization. Communication and understanding of their role and intentions for participating in the organization are essentials for a successful collaboration. Dependability The actors have shared risks in these environments, and are dependent of the system to not put their safety at risk when performing operations in the organization. It is also important to ensure that the non-human actors in the organization have shared loyalty towards the goal of the operation. Usability The use of computers in these work environments are only making the work processes more efficient if the usability is adequately developed for the user and the environment. Context information can increase the usability by providing individually adapted information, and arranges for a more customized coordination approach to each actor in the organization. Blue-collar workers are often not capable of operating regular mobile units, because their hands and other senses are focused and involved in carrying out their work. This demand for new and alternative ways of communicating.
At the construction site or other work environments, there will be a more frequent formation of MAHVOs. For instance, when new partners enter the organization e.g. subcontractors, they will participate in several ad hoc VOs to get the appropriate information about their responsibilities and roles in the organization. At the same time, their participation in the organization must be communicated to all actors that will cooperate and interact with them. The same applies to computers entering the organization. These complex organizations and working environments need to be further examined through research and development of prototypes, and the studies of VOs can hopefully be an important resource in the future research on mobile and nomadic work.
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Part IV Evaluation and conclusion
Evaluation and discussion
10. Evaluation and discussion
This chapter presents an evaluation of this contribution and a discussion of possible improvements to our work.
The work of mapping the area of VOs is an extensive task. It has been focused on gaining an insight into the concept by examining a large variety of issues related to VOs, and then applying this knowledge to a more specific research contribution through the use of scenarios. The main reason for this approach was to get an overview of the contemporary research in order to identify challenges and research propositions for further work. The process of exploring the large amount of literature on VOs has been a major part of this project. The research method, described in section 2.1, has proven to be efficient in the way of finding the right resources for the study on VOs. However, this approach continuously identified new contributions to use in our research, and made the work on state-of-the-art an iterative process. The outline of this part has thus gone through several iterations to address the research questions. The large amount of references has been a challenge to deal with, but has given me valuable experience on mapping a domain like VOs. The own contribution to this research has created a link between VOs and ad hoc collaboration. The extension of the VO taxonomy is valuable to the research on mobile work processes, and will hopefully bring new ideas and synergy effects between the areas of mobile computing, knowledge management and VOs. The research method used for the contribution, has proven to be appropriate for this kind of analysis. The structure of the scenarios is a pragmatic implementation of the formalized methods for scenario analysis in requirements engineering. In that way, the scenarios has served as sorts of mind benders, and reference models for the described environments in the work of comparing them with the VO characteristics. Due to this use of the scenarios, and the complexity of the organizational forms, there are not provided models of the scenario alliances.
The extent of the work on this project has been limited by the time constraints and that it is carried out as an individual report. However, we consider the work to be consistent and in accordance with good research practice. The selection of characteristics could have been narrowed down or modified by performing empirical studies on contemporary VOs, but this was not prioritized due to the
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Evaluation and discussion
project constraints. The discussion of enabling technologies could also have been more in depth, however this was intentionally de-emphasized. We wanted to focus on the issues and work processes of this type of organization rather than just on the technologies supporting them, as this is heavily covered by the other project reports within our research community. In this way, we could present an interesting view on the concept to complement the contributions of the fellow students and researchers.
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Conclusion and further work
11. Conclusion and further work
This concludes the study of VOs and the contribution on mobile work processes. The challenges and research propositions identified throughout the project are described as further work.
The objective of this report was to map the state-of-the-art situation of the research on Virtual Organization, and provide an analysis of mobile scenarios in relation to the concept of VOs. State-of-the-art First, the research questions, that were the foundation of our work on VOs have been addressed and answered throughout the presentation of the literature study. Furthermore, we have identified challenges to these organizations by conferring contemporary research initiatives and discussion forums available on the Internet. We have also provided an overview of enabling technologies as a result of the description of work processes and trends towards VOs, and a discussion of challenges towards the use of technology in VOs. Own contribution Second, the report provides a scenario analysis with the goal of extending our notion of VOs, and contribute to the MOWAHS project on mobile work processes. This work resulted in an extension of the VO taxonomy, including mobile ad hoc alliances in our notion of virtual collaborative networks. These results will serve as a springboard for further work in this domain.
11.2 Further work
The further work in regards to this report can be aimed in several directions. This section presents research propositions to continue the study of VOs as mobile ad hoc organizations. Intelligent work environments Further exploration of technologies enabling intelligent environments are needed in research. It is interesting to evaluate the opportunities of creating value in mobile work environments, and discuss in more detail the impact of intelligent objects as actors in work environments.
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Conclusion and further work
Activity theory The study of MAHVOs can be further discussed in regards to activity theory, resulting in models of ad hoc collaboration, and a better understanding of the actors and roles in such organizations. Evaluation of emerging technologies This report can be supplemented with an evaluation of the emerging technologies in ubiquitous and mobile computing, and a more detailed discussion on the role of each technology in MAHVOs. Empirical studies of work environments Empirical studies of different work environments are natural continuations of this report. Analysis of specific business organizations and work environments can identify new opportunities for employing intelligent objects and computers as cooperative actors in the organization. This work can result in a requirements specification for the use of technology in ad hoc collaborative organizations. Knowledge sharing in nomadic environments The study of MAHVOs can be further discussed in regards to knowledge sharing and knowledge management, and develop adequate procedures of maintaining efficient information flow in ad hoc organizations operating in nomadic environments.
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Part V Appendix
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Appendix A: Projects
This appendix gives an overview of ongoing projects in the Networked Organizations Domain. The list provides the project acronym, title and homepage. ALIVE Working group on Advanced Legal Issues in Virtual Enterprise. http://www.vive-ig.net/projects/alive BAP Business Architect Project. http://www.business-architect.de/ BIDSAVER Business Integrator Dynamic Support Agents for Virtual Enterprise. http://www.ceconsulting.it/ve/bidsaver.html CE-NET Concurrent Enterprise Network of Excellence. http://www.ce-net.org/ CIMOSA CIM Open System Architecture. http://www.cimosa.de COVE CO-operation infrastructure for Virtual Enterprises and electronic business. http://www.uninova.pt/~cove e-COGNOS Methodology, tools and architectures for electronic COnsistent knowledGe maNagement across prOjects and between enterpriSes in the construction domain. http://www.e-cognos.org/ E-COLLEG Advanced Infrastructure for Pan-European Collaborative Engineering. http://alfa.iele.polsl.gliwice.pl/~pawlak/E-Colleg/E-Colleg-index.htm eLEGAL Specifying Legal Terms of Contract in ICT Environment. http://cic.vtt.fi/projects/elegal/
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EU-projects Links to 200++ projects. http://cic.vtt.fi/links/euproj/ EXTERNAL Extended Enterprise Resources, Network Architectures and Learning. http://research.dnv.com/external FETISH-ETF Federate European Tourism Information System Harmonization - Engineering Task Force. http://fetish.t-6.it GENESIS Global Enterprise Network Support for the Innovation Process. http://www.cetim.org/genesis.html GLOBEMEN Global Engineering and Manufacturing in Enterprise Networks. http://cic.vtt.fi/projects/globemen/ GNOSIS GNOSIS Virtual Factory: model-based distributed manufacturing. http://www.vtt.fi/aut/tau/gnosis/ ICCI Innovation co-ordination, transfer and deployment through networked Cooperation in the Construction Industry. http://cic.vtt.fi/projects/icci/ ICSS Integrated Client-Server System for a Virtual Enterprise in the Building Industry. http://cib.bau.tu-dresden.de/icss/ inteliGrid Interoperability of Virtual Organizations on Complex Semantic Grid. http://www.inteligrid.com/ ISTforCE Intelligent Services and Tools for Concurrent Engineering. http://www.istforce.com/ KM Forum The European Knowledge Management Forum. http://www.knowledgeboard.com/
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MASSYVE Multi-Agent Manufacturing Agile Scheduling Systems for Virtual Enterprises. http://www.gsigma-grucon.ufsc.br/massyve/ NGMS Next Generation Manufacturing Systems. http://www.cam-i.org/ngms.html NIMCube New-use and Innovation Management and Measurement Methodology for R&D. http://www.nimcube.com/ OSMOS Open System for Inter-enterprise Information Management in Dynamic Virtual Environments. http://cic.vtt.fi/projects/osmos/ ProDAEC European Network for Product and Project Data Exchange, e-Work and eBusiness in Architecture, Engineering and Construction. http://www.prodaec.com/ PRODCHAIN Development of a decision support methodology to improve logistics performance in production networks. http://www.prodchain.net/ PRODNET II Production Planning and Management in an Extended Enterprise. http://www.uninova.pt/~prodnet/ PROMINENCE Promoting Inter-European Networks of Collaborating Extended Enterprise. http://www.eu-prominence.net/ PSIB Process and System Innovation in the Dutch Construction Industry. http://www.psib.nl/ SARA Value networks in construction. http://akseli.tekes.fi/Resource.phx/rapu/sara/en/index.htx
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satine Semantic-based Interoperability Infrastructure for Integrating Web Service Platforms to Peer-to-Peer Networks. http://www.srdc.metu.edu.tr/webpage/projects/satine/index.html SPIDER-WIN Supply Information Dynamic Exchange and Control by Web-based Interaction Network. http://www.spider-win.de/ SYMPHONY A Dynamic Management Methodology with Modular and Integrated Methods and Tools for Knowledge Based, Adaptive SMEs. http://www.symphony-village.com/ THINKcreative Thinking network of experts on emerging smart organizations. http://www.thinkcreative.org/ TrustCoM A Trust and Contract Management framework enabling secure collaborative business processing in on-demand created, self-managed, scalable, and highly dynamic Virtual Organisations. http://www.eu-trustcom.com/ VDA Virtual Destination Application. http://www.cetim.org/vda.html VL Virtual Laboratory. http://carol.wins.uva.nl/~netpeer/projects/VirtualLaboratory/VirtualLaboratory.ht ml VOSTER Virtual Organisations Cluster. http://voster.vtt.fi/
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