Overcoming Location Boundaries: Telecooperation and Virtual Enterprises

Publication Type:



Information, Organization and Management, p.317 - 367 (2008)




Large areas of business applications are increasingly contradicting the traditional picture of the enterprise as an integrated, methodically organized, and relatively stable product of the production of tangible assets and services: Strict hierarchies dissolve themselves into flat, modular structures (chapter 5). Traditional organizational boundaries blur in symbiotic, network-like entrepreneurial relationships (chapter 6). Technical infrastructures revolutionize markets (chapter 7) through the step-wise dissolution of spatial and temporal restriction. The increasing dissolution of locations, as well as the conditions for and implications of this for actual and future organizational forms, is the focal point of this chapter. Virtual organizations are an outgrowth of these developments. They therefore function more like spider-webs than networks. They are opposites of organizations that, with regard to ownership and contracts, have relatively well-defined boundaries, have a steady location, relatively permanent resource assignments, and controlled process structures. According to Aristotelian philosophy, virtuality may be regarded as an idealized goal of a boundless organization (Legrand 1972, p. 269). It may also be regarded as an organizational form that considers virtuality in the same sense as information systems researchers might, i.e. as a concept of performance improvement. This perspective also regards concrete locations where the actual work is carried out as systematic and dynamic (Mowshowitz 1991; Szyperski / Klein 1993). We will next address fundamental aspects of the dissolution of the work location, as well as questions pertaining to the drivers and organizational manifestations of dispersed work locations. The virtual organization as a specific result of telecooperative work forms is presented later.