Title: Organising for networking and virtual teams – the effects of the legal environment

Authors: Anne-Mari Makinen, Pia Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Amir Hassan

Addresses: Department of Business Law, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Rehtorinpellonkatu 3, FI-20500 Turku, Finland. ' Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4600, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland; School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20, FI-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland. ' Technology Business Research Center, Lappeenranta University of Technology, P.O. Box 20, FIN-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland; Apex Offshore Development Ltd., Laserkatu 6, FIN-53850 Lappeenranta, Finland

Abstract: Networking and teamwork have become increasingly typical ways of organising work in and between companies. These new forms of work provide companies with varying opportunities, but they may also be challenging to organise. One area having an effect on these challenges is legislation that has been developed with the traditional ways of organising work in mind. Indeed, questions related to teamwork are, to a large extent, unregulated in most of the member states of the EU, for example. The problem is that traditional labour law does not necessarily apply too well to new working practices, which, may lead to high levels of uncertainty in managing virtual teams and networking efforts, and makes it harder to be sure that the outcomes are what they are expected to be. This is even more highlighted when networking takes place across country boundaries. The purpose of this study is to examine the legislative environment of networking and teamwork, and especially virtual teams. Our focus is on bringing out potential problems in interpreting and applying labour law to new forms of work. The examination is, to a large extent, based on the evaluation of legislation and theory, and these issues are also illustrated and clarified through a mini case study. Our findings indicate that the lack of explicit legislation for managing virtual teams need not be detrimental, if the firms utilising such forms of work are knowledgeable of legislation and capable of drafting clear contracts.

Keywords: networking; teamwork; labour legislation; knowledge protection; international teams; virtual teams; web based communities; labour law; team management; contracts.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2008.018831

International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, 2008 Vol.5 No.3/4, pp.436 - 453

Available online: 19 Jun 2008 *

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