Telecommuting, virtual teams, & remote management resources

This is a list of various research documents and articles relating to telecommuting, virtual teams, remote management, cloud labor, and Internet culture that have influenced Jayne and Susan's recommendations regarding online volunteering, or that have been recommended by others as resources that can help organizations successfully engage in virtual volunteering:

  • Going Open: Does it Mean Giving Away Control?. By Nadia Noori and Michael Weiss. Technology Innovation Management Review. January 2013. All successful open source platforms evolved from voluntarily initiatives to sustainable entities. "Within the sample cases, we found three types of governance models: tight-control, loose-control, and hybrid-control. Each governance model consists of the following attributes: community structure, extension types, and governance structure and network openness. Each model was associated with non-trivial trade-offs in terms of governance, openness, quality, and flow of ideas." Also "Throughout the years, the open source community has learned how to organize itself and provide collaboration models and tools that fit within the free/libre open source software context. These communities needed such control mechanisms in place to ensure quality and maintain growth."

  • "What makes a virtual organization work?" Markus, L., B. Manvile and C. Agres (2000). MIT Sloan Management. "What motivates people to participate in open-source projects? And how is participation governed in the absence of employment or fee-for-service contracts? The answers to those questions reveal some important lessons for organizations — whether or not they develop software products — about both the challenges of keeping and motivating knowledge workers and the process of managing various types of virtual organizations, such as ad hoc project teams, virtual teams, communities of practice and multicompany collaborations." To access, search the title and authors on the search engine of your choice.

  • "The Psychology of Effective Business Communications in Geographically Dispersed Teams"
    In September 2006, Cisco released this white paper that identifies rules for communicating that will help virtual teams to work together successfully. Virtual communication 'best practices' recommended in the report include agreeing to protocols on response times, and establishing rules for the selection of media and the frequency of communications, especially in multi-cultural teams. Encouraging socializing and ad-hoc chats over a virtual 'coffee machine' by using spontaneous and richer media for communications can also speed up the development of trust. Whether you work with online volunteers or with paid staff in dispersed locations, this is a very interesting and helpful white paper. One of the things I like about it in particular is it's focus on the cultural differences that can become exaggerated within virtual teams and lead to misunderstandings. Great stuff. Read the press release about this (it's a good list of highlights of the white paper). You can download the Executive Summary (PDF 137.10KB).

  • Understanding the Motivations, Participation and Performance of Open Source Software Developers: A Longitudinal Study of the Apache Projects. Jeff Roberts, Il-Horn Hann,Sandra Slaughter. September 1, 2004. "Understanding what motivates individuals to participate is a central theme in the research on open source software development. Our study contributes to this research by revealing how the different motivations of open source developers are interrelated, how these motivations influence their participation and performance, and how past performance influences their subsequent motivations." Contact, Tepper School of Business Carnegie Mellon University, for this paper.

  • "Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams"
    This is an in-depth academic study from 1998 by Dr. Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa that "explores the challenges of creating and maintaining trust in a global virtual team," particularly those that involve people of different cultures and interest, and varying degrees of commitment. I think it's still relevant 10 years after its original publication.

  • "Successful Management in the Virtual Office"
    This is a masters thesis by Bernie Kelley and Bruce McGraw that was published in 1996, and it had more influence on the development of the resources at the than anything other single resource.

  • "Building an Internet Culture"
    "In thinking about culturally appropriate ways of using technologies like the Internet, the best starting-point is with people -- coherent communities of people and the ways they think together. " An excellent essay by Phil Agree that discusses the importance of social networking to job development and performance, how the Internet provides a great opportunity for such networking, and how cyberspace needs to be promoted as a place for social interaction and prevented from becoming a corporate wasteland. Many real world examples of such social networking that have assisted companies and individuals are given, even ways in which developing countries can use the internet to the advantage of itself and its people. This paper is from 1998 -- and still offers great insight.

    The USA government's Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration (GSA) established this interagency website to provide easy access to information about telework in the Federal Government. The information contained on this website pertains only to Executive Branch agencies and employees, but its extensive information about policies and procedures, tools and resources and reports and studies provide excellent guidance for any organization.

There are also several studies, research projects and evaluation reports regarding the open source movement's involvement of unpaid people ("distributed engagement"). The data I've found so far has been regarding efforts to develop commercial or free software, not for the specific benefit of nonprofit organizations/civil society, and so far, I haven't found anything that would be obviously valuable to nonprofit managers (although the way these unpaid contributors are constantly motivated and continually involved across development levels is definitely something from which nonprofits could learn).

If you know of a study, research project or evaluation report regarding telecommuting, virtual teams, remote management and Internet culture that you believe could help organizations better engage in virtual volunteering, or that could influence understanding about online volunteering, please contact Jayne with the name of the study or evaluation and a link for more information (even if the entire report is not freely available online). This can include informal evaluations of individual programs.

If you are a university-based student or faculty member researching any aspect of telecommuting, virtual teams, or remote management, or you are researching some aspect of telecommuting, virtual teams, or remote management for an academic or professional journal, please contact Jayne with information about your research project.