Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Virtual Visions, Technological Tools and Social Reality

Catherine Wallace, Douglas Ashwell.

Currently we have a number of organisational forms from the scientifically managed workplace to the virtual organisation. The use of technology can be seen as either a tool or a driver within organisations. This has varying impacts on the individual depending on the organisational type and their role in the organisation.

While the shift to knowledge work has reduced the need for employees to attend a set place of work, it has increased the dependence on the technology. This necessitates a shift in the way we view technology as it needs to fulfil both task and maintenance functions. Social relationships are becoming increasingly mediated through the technology, therefore the technology needs to be strong in both social presence and media richness.

Technology has enabled the movement of people home and has many actual and potential benefits for both employers and employees. New organisational forms and ways of working allow flexibility, lower costs, greater creativity and organisations to be family-friendly. The driver for this is due to cheaper, faster and more portable hardware with networked software over high speed lines.

So why hasn’t the virtual organisation been universally adopted? We suggest that this is due in part to varying understandings of the term as well as not meeting employers’ expectations and some of the intrinsic rewards that motivate employees. In order to realise the full potential of the virtual vision we pose a number of guidelines organisations should consider before the adoption of the virtual workplace.


Catherine Wallace  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer
Dept of Communication and Journalism, Business College
Massey University

Douglas Ashwell  (New Zealand)

  • Technology
  • Organisational forms
  • Social relationships

(30 min Conference Paper, English)