Virtual Teams: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review of Best Practices
Villado, Anton J.
Doctor of Philosophy
Corporate activity is shifting towards globalization, and communication technologies are becoming more sophisticated, facilitating a quicker pace of change within organizations (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002). Thus, organizations are using virtual teams (teams who primarily rely on technology to communicate) to accomplish work more effectively and efficiently. Growing in tandem with organizations’ increasing reliance on virtual teams are the number of articles in the popular business press suggesting “best practices” for these teams (e.g., Forbes, Harvard Business Review). It remains to be seen, however, whether these best practices are substantiated by empirical research. Thus, the purpose of the current study is to (a) meta-analytically test the best practices found in the popular business press to determine whether they are supported by empirical evidence and (b) review theoretical qualitative evidence that supports or refutes the best practice when direct empirical tests are absent. The results suggested that many of the general categories of virtual team best practices from the popular business press were supported by empirical research (i.e., communication, community, leadership, and structured work). Other best practices received less support (i.e., selection), had mixed support (i.e., conflict), or were unable to be tested (i.e., cultural sensitivity and order of face-to-face communication). The more specific best practices did not receive equal attention in the empirical literature, and with the exception of trust, were supported by few studies or unable to be tested. Finally, the relationships between virtual team best practices and important outcomes might be more nuanced than they appear in the popular business press. The moderator analysis suggested team size and type of performance outcome influence the virtual team best practice-outcome relationship, such that small and large teams generally benefit more from virtual team best practices than medium teams, and best practices generally impact satisfaction outcomes to a greater extent than performance. These results contribute to the empirical literature by providing a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative review of empirically tested popular business press best practices of virtual teams as well as serving as a catalyst for future research and as a practical reference for practitioners working in organizations that use virtual teams.
virtual team; best practice