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Managing technology as a virtual enterprise

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The complexity of R&D projects and growing international competition are factors leading to more co‐operation especially among small and medium‐sized firms. But even large integrated firms are often not willing or able to perform the necessary amount of R&D and to cope with the uncertainty associated with radical innovations.

In a virtual company, members form a network, thereby enabling projects to be pursued by combining member’s resources. Specific assets of a virtual company are its flexibility and ability to handle variety. Costs of co‐ordination and motivation are lowered if the virtual company succeeds in building trust and commitment. On the other hand, lack of these pose severe problems.

In markets with a strong scientific‐technological basis and rapid rate of change the concept of a virtual organization seems appealing. High R&D costs and risks can be shared, developments and time‐to‐market can be accelerated and the partners can concentrate on their respective core competencies.

In the paper we use an example from the biotechnology industry as a case study and discuss some of the theoretical and practical problems that are encountered in the virtual enterprise.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: University of L√ľneburg, Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Germany, weisenfeld@uni‐ 2: University of Twente, 3: R&D Research Unit, Manchester Business School, UK, 4: Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management, Koblenz, Germany., Email:

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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