Alain_Pinsonneault_EMBA_McGill_HEC_optA “virtual team” is a team that is geographically dispersed, or a team that works remotely. As virtual teams are becoming more commonplace, it is interesting to look into the factors that influence virtual team productivity.

Alain Pinsonneault, co-director of the McGill – HEC Montreal EMBA program, is also a professor at McGill University. One of his recent articles, ” Virtual Teams Demystified : An Integrative Framework for Understanding Virtual Teams “, written in collaboration with Olivier Caya (Université Sherbrooke) and Mark Mortensen (INSEAD, France), has recently been selected as the best article published in the “International Journal of e- Collaboration ( IJEC )” in 2013.

The article develops a theoretical framework to understand the effectiveness of virtual teams based on many elements previously studied in the literature. The paper shows that there are key elements of virtual teams that influence the quality of their output, among which are:

•the complementarity of expertise of the team members;
• developing a culture of collaboration and sharing in the team;
• developing a shared understanding of the goal of the team as well as the work process and culture of the team;
• establishing a good interpersonal climate (in the form of trust and team cohesion);
• and making sure that communication among team members is frequent and relies on different channels such as email, phone, video conferencing, and some face-to-face meetings.

The study also has important implications for managers. The framework can be used to identify key success factors in managing virtual teams and also as a guide the managing such teams.

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Virtual teams have been researched intensely in the last ten years and there is a growing body of literature on the topic. At this point, the authors need an integrative theory-driven framework through which they can conceptualize the notion of virtual teams and organize and make sense of prior research. This can help them better understand what drives virtual team dynamics and ultimately effectiveness and can guide future research on the topic. Drawing on models of team effectiveness and emergent processes and states, the authors developed a framework for understanding virtual team dynamics. They then use this framework to review and synthesize one hundred and twenty-one empirical studies of virtual teams published since 1990. The authors analyzed the direct and indirect antecedents of virtual team effectiveness and identify key gaps in both their knowledge of, and approach to studying, virtual teams. They outlined areas for future research and discuss, the implications for the authors’ paper for practice and for the study of virtual and traditional teams.

Source: Caya, O., Mortensen, M., & Pinsonneault, A. (2013). Virtual Teams Demystified: An Integrative Framework for Understanding Virtual Teams. International Journal of e-Collaboration (IJeC), 9(2), 1-33