Virtualising the utility industry through interorganisational learning
Due to changing circumstances, organisations start to co-operate with their
competitors or with firms from other industries that can complement their
range of products. This development of independent partners sharing their
resources and equipment with each other can also be seen in the Swedish
utility industry and will soon happen to other utility businesses after
the European utility deregulation has become a fact. This co-operation can
be seen as a virtual organisation and research is performed on how virtual
organisations operate and how partners establish and maintain such an organisation.
For this reason the R&D virtual organisation called ISES formed around
the utility related joint venture EnerSearch AB. When comparing a virtual
organisation with traditional organisations, five boundaries are presented
that can both create and inhibit learning and communication. Since learning
can be viewed as a major objective of a virtual organisation, the five boundaries
are discussed in more detail and are related to empirical results in the
project ISES. These boundaries are time, space, diversity, structure and
distribution and are characteristics of a virtual organisation. By observing
this organisation, opportunities and obstacles of a virtual organisation
are presented that could help organisations who initiate to establish a
virtual organisation. One example is the difference in decision styles or
personality of the members of a virtual organisation, which influences information
distribution, communication and co-operation.
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