Vaasan yliopiston opinnäytteet

Kauppatieteellinen tiedekunta, 2013

Kuivalainen, Mikael

Benefits and challenges of virtual teams

Ohjaaja/Valvoja (DI):
Tiina Brandt
Tutkinto:
Kauppatieteiden maisteri
Pääaine:
Johtaminen ja organisaatiot
Koulutusohjelma:
Henkilöstöjohtamisen maisteriohjelma
Tutkielman kieli:
Englanti
Sivumäärä:
81
Virtual teams are a growing phenomenon in both the world of research and business. They have evolved as a response to development in electronic communication technology and various global trends.

Businesses started utilizing virtual teams before there was any strong research on the subject. While research has increased exponentially since then, there have been few works that have collected the various results together. This thesis aims to summarize the current research on virtual teams and the various benefits and challenges faced by organizations in utilizing them and compare research with the results from an empirical study that focuses on current top management’s viewpoint.

Virtual teams are teams where members rarely meet each other physically. They rely on electronic communication to collaborate and achieve their goals. The members are usually both structurally and geographically separated. The use of an unfamiliar communication medium and other characteristics lead to a number of challenges but also to surprising benefits.

Significant benefits lie with cost-savings and efficiency, whereas challenges arise in leadership, communication and trust. As communication technology develops and improves, it is likely that virtual teams will also increase in abundance. Organizations must
be prepared for this and be able to differentiate between traditional teams and virtual teams.

The results from the study suggest that most top management acknowledge the main challenges as found via research, while stated benefits are mostly cost benefits. The study also suggests a number of targets for potential future research.
Avainsanat:
virtual teams, benefit, challenge, top management
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