Virtual Work: Bridging Research Clusters
Sumita Raghuram, N. Sharon Hill, Jennifer L. Gibbs and Likoebe M. Maruping
Virtual work is becoming the new normal, with employees working from dispersed locations using computer-mediated communication. Despite the growth in virtual work research, it has occurred in siloes focused on different types of virtual work (e.g., virtual teams, telecommuting), which limits opportunities to leverage research across these different domains. We use a co-citation analysis to examine the degree of segmentation in the field of virtual work and identify three major research clusters: telecommuting, virtual teams and computer-mediated work. We then conduct a comparative review of the literature in each cluster to identify ways to exploit opportunities that cut across them. Based on our review, we develop a conceptual model using the dispersion and technology dependence dimensions of virtuality to compare different approaches to studying virtuality-related issues across clusters. Next, we propose a systematic approach for developing research questions to bridge research across the clusters by considering how different approaches to studying virtuality in one cluster might help to advance research in another. To illustrate this approach, we propose 12 bridging research questions. Finally, we discuss the research implications of our conceptual model and bridging approach. Our review and conceptual model help to facilitate a forward-looking agenda for virtual work research.