Intertwining Material and Virtual Work


Management and Entrepreneurship

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Virtual work in organizations continues to be promoted despite the absence of a strong conceptual understanding of virtual work and its consequences. In this paper, we draw from and , who treat virtual work as a second, electronically mediated representation of material work. The virtual and material representations co-exist and intertwine, potentially allowing teams and organizations to extend their capabilities. We identify four aspects of intertwining: reinforcement, complementarity, synergy, and reciprocity. In instances where the relationship between virtual and material worlds of work lack one or more of these aspects, ironic and confused outcomes may result. We illustrate these aspects with anecdotal images, findings from published research, and an original case study.Although our primary focus is upon virtual teams and organizations, we also speculate on the relevance of intertwining to individuals, communities and markets.