17. Virtual Organizations

  1. D. Douglas Caulkins1 and
  2. Ann T. Jordan2
  1. Christina Wasson

Published Online: 2 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118325513.ch17

A Companion to Organizational Anthropology

A Companion to Organizational Anthropology

How to Cite

Wasson, C. (2012) Virtual Organizations, in A Companion to Organizational Anthropology (eds D. D. Caulkins and A. T. Jordan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118325513.ch17

Editor Information

  1. 1

    Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell, USA

  2. 2

    University of North Texas, USA

Author Information

  1. University of North Texas, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 2 OCT 2012
  2. Published Print: 29 OCT 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405199827

Online ISBN: 9781118325513



  • Internet;
  • mobile work;
  • organizational anthropology;
  • placeless organizations;
  • telework;
  • virtual communication;
  • virtual organizations


Anthropologists have significantly contributed to a new field of research – virtual organizations – in five areas. First, they have examined the work processes and evolution over time of virtual teams. Second, anthropologists with a linguistic focus have examined the communication processes of virtual groups. Third, anthropologists have examined the growing practice of mobile work and telework, highlighting the lived experience of workers engaged in such activities. Fourth, they have developed the concept of the “placeless organization” as a particular type of virtual organization with the potential to engage in significant forms of social transformation. Finally, they have examined a wide variety of online communities. Each of these areas of research is reviewed in this chapter. Subsequently, three overarching themes are identified in the anthropological research on virtual organizations. The themes include contributions of an ethnographic approach, the integration of online and offline life, strong presence of applied anthropologists.