PhD-dissertation: Problem Solving in Extended Virtual Teams
Better together: How can multinational firms develop solutions through collaboration with external participants? 1 April 2011 Bjørn-Tore Flåten defends his doctoral dissertation: Problem Solving in Extended Virtual Teams at University of Agder (UiA).
In his doctoral dissertation, Problem Solving in Extended Virtual Teams, Bjørn-Tore Flåten opens up a new field of study to scientific research: How do extended virtual teams solve problems?
Bjørn-Tore Flåten graduates from the University of Agder’s PhD Programme in International Management at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
Collaborative Problem Solving
While we know that today’s organisations face problems that cannot be solved by individuals thinking alone, but that require collective efforts, the Internet has made it possible to unify these efforts across national and firm borders. Self-organising initiatives such as Wikipedia and Linux testify to the power of such co-creation.
The phenomenon under study in this thesis illustrates how a new organisational model can be used to solve product development problems in an international software development company. The company exploits the opportunities of modern information and communication technologies and uses both insiders and outsiders in helping them solve problems. The resulting new organisational model uses ‘extended virtual teams’, which compose of internal virtual team members of an international firm who interact and collaborate with external participants to solve common problems.
Despite the promise of collaborative problem solving through extended virtual teams, there is little research on how knowledge is shared in such settings. What happens to a firm’s competitive advantage if knowledge is freely shared beyond the boundaries of the firm?
Complex Organisations Solving Complex Problems
The research findings suggest that knowledge should not be treated as a commodity that can be easily transferred. Sharing and requesting knowledge occurs through the interaction of a range of people both inside and outside the formal organisation, thus challenging our ideas about the boundaries of the firm. The resulting knowledge, even that which is shared outside of the organisation, can create value for the firm.
In support of his findings, Flåten points to problem solving as a social process. He recommends that the organisational structure for collaboration should not only facilitate solution development processes within the formal boundaries of the firm, but also include the external participants in the process. Firms can do this without losing their competitive advantage. The findings suggest that extended virtual teams, can solve complex problems, and have fun while doing so.
Public Defence and Trial Lecture
Candidate: Bjørn-Tore Flåten (36) grew up in Vigrestad at Jæren, Norway. He holds a MSc from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH). Prior to joining the University of Agder, he worked several years’ as a manager in a volunteer organisation. He has also been engaged as an independent consultant advising on strategy and organisational development. Currently, he holds a position as an Assistant Professor at the Center for Entrepreneurship at UiA. He lives in Kristiansand with his wife and two children.
Trial Lecture and Public Defence
Location: Auditorium B2 003, Campus Kristiansand, Norway. Please use the main entrance.
Trial lecture: 1 April 2011 from 12:15 to 13:00
Topic: How can international virtual organizations be included in the theory of the multinational firm?
Public defence: 1 April 2011 at 13:15 – onwards
Chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Trond Randøy, Department of Economics and Business Administration, University of Agder
Professor Joyce Falkenberg, Department of Economics and Business Administration, University of Agder
Reception In A7 001 directly after the public defence.