Improving the Communicational Effectiveness of Virtual Organizations Through Workflow Automation

Kishore Sengupta and J. Leon Zhao
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 3, Number 1, Fall 1998, pp. 49.

Abstract: Virtual teams are increasingly used for a wide variety of tasks to achieve organizational flexibility and reduce administrative overhead. Such teams are versatile and adaptive in many ways but often at the expense of high communication and coordination costs. This paper explores the communicational effectiveness of virtual teams for performing complex structured tasks with high coordination requirements. It investigates the communicational patterns of a virtual team created for the purpose of managing special events at a public university. An analysis of the e-mail messages between team members shows that the team adopted a “hub-and-spoke” communicational structure. This created bottlenecks, thereby impairing the team’s communicational effectiveness. The findings underpin a proposed set of workflow-based solutions for improving the functioning of the team. This research highlights the need for a better understanding of the theoretical implications of workflow and related technologies for corporate communication, especially communication in virtual teams.

Key Words and Phrases
: Communications, e-mail, virtual teams, workflow automation.