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New Service Development in banking: The organization and coordination of virtual development teams - Volume 2

Wein, M. (2004). New Service Development in banking: The organization and coordination of virtual development teams - Volume 2. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


New Service Development (NSD) is frequently executed on a project-management basis with the organizational nucleus being the cross-functional team. Radical changes in information technology have led to the emergence of a new type of cross-functional team, the virtual team. Virtual teams comprise an important structural component of many organizations and are particularly important in globally dispersed efforts. This thesis investigates the workings of virtual NSD teams in corporate banking.

The literature indicates that leaders of virtual teams often struggle to achieve effective teamwork. As virtual teams involve geographically dispersed members who rarely meet in person, a key challenge for team leaders is to organize and coordinate. This study develops a conceptual model of the organization and coordination of virtual teamwork grounded both in previous literature and in qualitative multiple case studies. A systematic process was used for conducting case research using purposive sampling and multiple data collection methods. Data was collected from 16 project teams in 8 international banking institutions - Goldman Sachs, Schroders, Barclays, Rothschild, Deutsche Bank, Abbey National, Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland.

The findings shed new light on the workings of virtual teams in the NSD context. They suggest that some analysts have exaggerated the potential of flexibility and adaptability in virtual teams. There is little evidence of flexibility and adaptability in the management of high performing teams. High performing teams are distinguished by formalized work processes, centralized decision-making, and standardized communication patterns. It is the physical structure of high performing teams (size and membership especially) which is flexible and adaptive. Yet, the more flexible the physical structure the tighter organization and coordination. Tightly organized and coordinated work processes reduce complexity and ambiguity and so provide stability. These surprising findings contribute to emerging research suggesting that loosely coupled organizational forms need to be underpinned by tight managerial mechanisms. Managers are challenged to implement these mechanisms in the form of formalized, centralized and standardized work processes.

Managerial implications are identified in the context of, but not limited to, NSD. They highlight the limitations of virtual teams and suggest that team leaders evaluate with great care whether to deploy a virtual team as opposed to a traditional co-located work group. In particular, the advantages of flexible physical team configurations may be diminished by the attendant need for rigid managerial mechanisms to organize and coordinate. Unless these mechanisms are skilfully implemented, their rigidity may curb efficiencies related to time and cost and may even hinder creativity and innovation. These potential limitations provide rich possibilities for further research.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Management
[thumbnail of Wein thesis 2004 Vol 2 PDF-A.pdf]
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