Discontinuities and continuities: A new way to understand virtual work

Mary Beth Watson-Manheim, Katherine M. Chudoba, Kevin Crowston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


“Virtual” is a potent buzzword, freely applied to many situations, with many meanings. In this exploratory study, we develop a more precise understanding of “virtual” to describe changing work environments. Specifically, we propose a framework to classify work environments based on the type of discontinuities involved. Discontinuities are gaps or a lack of coherence in aspects of work. The framework allows us to compare research across different topics and work settings. We use the framework to classify 75 published articles on virtual work environments or earlier, related research streams. We observed that many studies were simultaneously addressing existing or emerging continuities, factors or strategies for overcoming discontinuities. The focus of “virtual” is on changes in the work environment; however, our analysis suggests the need to be equally aware of factors that have not changed and which may become more critical with the introduction of discontinuities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-209
Number of pages19
JournalInformation Technology & People
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002


  • Communications technology
  • Information technology
  • Work design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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