Perceived discontinuities and constructed continuities in virtual work

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Boundaries such as time, distance, organisation and culture have been a useful conceptual tool for researchers to unpack changes in the virtual work environment, moving from a dichotomous perspective that contrasts face-to-face and virtual work to a more nuanced hybrid perspective. However, researchers may tacitly assume that all members of a virtual team and virtual teams collectively will respond to a boundary in a similar way. We posit instead that boundaries are a dynamic phenomenon and may have different consequences under different circumstances. We offer organisational discontinuity theory as a tool for more focused investigation of the virtual work environment. Discontinuities and continuities describe the setting in which individuals in a virtual team operate, both actual work practices and the perceptions of the individuals in the virtual work environment. The terms offer a starting point to identify and understand what may otherwise seem to be paradoxical differences in how virtual team members respond to boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Boundaries
  • Discontinuity
  • Virtual teams
  • Virtual work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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