Work Behavior and Innovative Capabilities WHEN TASKS GET VIRTUAL: How Tasks Virtuality Affects Work Behavior and Innovative Capabilities

Abstract

Since organizations have become more global, the structures in organizations have been transformed into more flexible units. With these changes, many new approaches have emerged in management practice. Among all others, virtuality in organizations received a growing attention in the last decade. Extensive amount of research confirmed the fact that virtuality plays a crucial role in organizations. Findings linked virtuality to a number of variables including organizational and behavioral outcomes, which range from team leadership to employee feelings, lack of face-to-face contact between people at the workplace resulted in fierce challenges that raised the barriers for organizational effectiveness and innovativeness. Although the dynamics of virtual working have gained much traction, only a limited number of studies addressed the impacts of virtuality at the individual and task level. This paper discusses the implications of task virtuality by elaborating its impacts on work related, behavioral outcomes as well as innovation capabilities of knowledge employees.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper is to underline the implications of task virtuality by bringing its differences from team virtuality to light and to discuss its relevance in management research and practice from behavioral and innovation perspectives. Since the beginning of discussions about the “virtuality” concept in the management literature, it has been assumed that the impacts associated with a certain level of virtuality within a team are distributed to its members evenly. For this reason, the literature is fully loaded with studies measuring the impact of team virtuality on individuals and on behavioral and organizational outcomes. In this paper, however, we defend that the extent of virtuality and interdependence within the team level can vary largely so that even members of a same team may experience different levels of virtuality at the individual level. Therefore, virtuality should be elaborated at the individual level which arises from task and network structures. The guiding principle of our article is to challenge these previous assumptions by deliberating the complex issue of the individual level of virtuality and its impacts on work behavior and innovation outcomes. In the light of discussions, we also argue that organizational researchers and practitioners need to pay closer attention to task virtuality in order to understand the broader impacts of virtuality at the individual level. Technological advancements are evolving and continously penetrating into all areas of work that are used to be considered as traditional. Interactions between people turn out to be more computer-based, since more and more people predominantly communicate using ICT-mediated tools in all sorts of organizations and industries. This dominance of the technology in organizations is inevitable and has the likelihood to precipitate negative behavioral outcomes and innovativeness of individual and firms, because workplace social relations and knowledge transfer are usually impaired by virtualization of work and work relations. It is therefore crucial to ensure that sufficient opportunities and platforms are prepared by managers for their employees’ well-being and productivity, while researchers need to shed more light on the workplace dynamics and task virtuality.

Originally published at jmi.mercy.edu.

When Tasks Get Virtual: How Tasks Virtuality Affects Work Behavior and Innovative Capabilities (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320881596_When_Tasks_Get_Virtual_How_Tasks_Virtuality_Affects_Work_Behavior_and_Innovative_Capabilities [accessed Nov 16 2017].

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