Virtual organizations are composed of employees spread across different locations who perform different jobs and who may also have different cultural identities. The image of a virtual organization may be one in which employees are completely isolated from each other and only interact through information and communications technology. These types of purely virtual organizations are mythically rare. Instead, some virtual organization employees may work alone, functioning essentially like telecommuters, whereas others work clustered together in traditional offices. The key to understanding virtual organizations is, therefore, the special issues that arise when employees are spread out over multiple geographic locations working alone or in small—and even large—groups.

The two most important characteristics of virtual organizations are their dependence on groups and teams and their more fluid structure. ...

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