Integrating distributed work: comparing task design, communication, and tacit coordination mechanisms



We investigate coordination strategies in integrating distributed work. In the context of Business Process Offshoring (BPO), we analyze survey data from 126 offshored processes to understand both the sources of difficulty in integrating distributed work as well as how organizations overcome these difficulties. We find that interdependence between offshored and onshore processes can lower offshored process performance, and investing in coordination mechanisms can ameliorate the performance impact of interdependence. In particular, we outline a distinctive set of coordination mechanisms that rely on tacit coordination—and theoretically articulate and empirically show that tacit coordination mechanisms are distinct from the well-known duo of coordination strategies: building communication channels or modularizing processes to minimize the need for communication. We discuss implications for the study of coordination in organizations. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.