Toward an index of virtualness

Donald Cox III

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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At the end of the last century, few topics received more attention in the management literature than that of virtual organizations (DeSanctis & Monge, 1999). In January 2008, the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) convened a panel of experts who produced a report, Beyond Virtual, in which they asked, “How do we define and evaluate success or failure in VOs (virtual organizations)? The appropriate processes and metrics for evaluation may vary as much as the VOs themselves and should be considered as a stream of research” (Cummings, et al., 2008). To understand the impact of virtual work, its effect needs to be measured against performance. Public records of corporations offer a means to examine six aspects of virtual work: distribution, language, currency, time zones, human resources, and technology. Towards an Index of Virtualness proposes that if the indexes of these virtual work elements have a relationship to performance, then success or failure, with and without virtual work, may be measured: that aspects of externally observable virtual work measured against performance will establish a feasible metric. The research finds that for the majority of the indexes examined, firms that had reached a specific quantitative threshold of virtualness were likely to be successful, while those working below the threshold were as likely to be unsuccessful as successful. Thus achieving a threshold of virtual work will tend towards success. While the initial research in this thesis was based on corporate operations since they offered a globally diverse set of activities with uniform performance metrics, the technique of indexing virtual work is applicable to scholarly work, as verified in the context of the Global CyberBridges project, which is taken as a case for research applicability.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


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