Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems: Exploring How Organization Scientists and Virtual Organization Leaders Can Collaborate

23 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2013 Last revised: 22 Jan 2013

Nicholas Berente

University of Georgia

James Howison

University of Texas at Austin

John L. King

University of Michigan School of Information

Kalle J. Lyytinen

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Nancy Wilkins-Diehr

San Diego Supercomputer Center

Date Written: January 20, 2013

Abstract

This report describes the results of a workshop held in Cleveland, Ohio in May of 2012 that brought organization scientists together with Virtual Organization (VO) leaders to address the challenges facing managers of VOs, identify key insights from research on VOs, and determine whether it is possible to build a sustainable community among organization scientists and VO leaders. Both organization scientists and VO leaders were enthusiastic about collaborating, but there were challenges.

One challenge is the difficulty of achieving collaboration when VO leaders want simple, clear, and validated answers to their problems; while the complex and highly contextual findings from organization science could fill volumes. Another involves misalignment of goals - VO leaders wanting actionable insights into the issues important to their organizations, and organization scientists wanting to understand how organizations work in specific situations and in general.

Five possible relationships between organization scientists and VO leaders were identified:
- Engineering (organization scientists provide formulaic "cookbook");
- Research (VO leaders provide research setting in which organization scientists work);
- Education (organization scientists teach a custom curriculum for VO leaders);
- Consultative (organization scientists study specific issues for VO leaders); and
- Collaborative Research (joint research that addresses VO leader needs and that is academically publishable).

Going forward there are four themes that require attention:
- evidence-based management: (translate general findings to local contexts);
- benchmarking and best practice (documenting what works in different contexts);
- embedded researchers (finding the appropriate organization scientists to study issues of concern to VO leaders); and
- executive education (developing a specialized curriculum for VO leaders).

Suggested Citation

Berente, Nicholas and Howison, James and King, John L. and Lyytinen, Kalle J. and Wilkins-Diehr, Nancy, Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems: Exploring How Organization Scientists and Virtual Organization Leaders Can Collaborate (January 20, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2204092 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2204092

Nicholas Berente (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

Brooks Hall
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

James Howison

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

John L. King

University of Michigan School of Information ( email )

3447 North Quad
105 S. State St. 3447
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285
United States
734-615-83526 (Phone)

Kalle J. Lyytinen

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management ( email )

10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States

Nancy Wilkins-Diehr

San Diego Supercomputer Center ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
San Diego, CA 92093
United States

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