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{Excerpt} Virtual team management is the ability to organize and coordinate with effect a group whose members are not in the same location or time zone, and may not even work for the organization. The predictor of success is—as always—clarity of purpose. But group participation in achieving that is more than ever important to compensate for lost context. Virtual team management requires deeper understanding of people, process, and technology, and recognition that trust is a more limiting factor compared with face-to-face interactions.

A team is a cooperative unit of interacting individuals who are committed to a common purpose on tasks; endowed with complementary skills, for instance, in technical competence, problem-solving ability, and emotional intelligence; and who share interdependent performance goals (with indicators and deadlines) as well as an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. (People try to accomplish with others what they cannot do alone.) When they are effective, teams are typified by intelligibility of purpose, trust, open communication, clear roles, the right mix of talent and skills, full participation, individual performance, quality control, risk taking, collective delivery of products and services, an appropriate level of sponsorship and resources,and balanced work-life interactions. Their stages of development are likely universal.

But here commonalities end: thanks to globalization and, chiefly, the advent of the Internet, unusual teams whose members may never meet face to face have come to proliferate. Their distinct configurations raise unique challenges for managers, to which literature and practice are only just beginning to pay attention.


Suggested Citation

Serrat, O. (2010). Managing virtual teams. Washington, DC: Asian Development Bank.

Required Publisher's Statement

This article was first published by the Asian Development Bank (