Virtual Organizing: Using Threads to Coordinate Distributed Work

11 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2003

See all articles by JoAnne Yates

JoAnne Yates

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Wanda J. Orlikowski

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Stephanie Woerner

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Information Systems Research (CISR)

Date Written: June 2003

Abstract

This paper explores the critical role of conversational threads in facilitating the ongoing, distributed work of one virtual organization. In studying the electronic mail exchanges of organizational members during one year, we found that they engaged in a range of threading activity to establish and maintain continuity, coherence, and coordination in their collaborative work over time. In particular, we found that organizational members relied on simple threads to focus their attention and action on a particular topic over a short period of time, concurrent threads to enable their participation in multiple topics at the same time, and compound threads to allow provisional settlement of key issues that were subsequently revisited over extended periods of time. We conclude by discussing the implications of conversational threads for research and practice of virtual organizing.

Keywords: Virtual Organizing, Electronic Mail, Conversational Threads

Suggested Citation

Yates, JoAnne and Orlikowski, Wanda J. and Woerner, Stephanie, Virtual Organizing: Using Threads to Coordinate Distributed Work (June 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=420521 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.420521

JoAnne Yates

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

MIT E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7157 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

Wanda J. Orlikowski

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-329
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0443 (Phone)
617-258-7579 (Fax)

Stephanie Woerner (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) ( email )

Sloan School of Management
5 Cambridge Center, NE25-770
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-452-3222 (Phone)
617-253-4424 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
416
Abstract Views
3,164
rank
82,286
PlumX Metrics