Purpose ‐ Despite increase in industry use of dispersed teams, understanding has lagged on how to manage knowledge effectively and efficiently in a dispersed structure. The main purpose of this paper is to map this domain by reviewing two streams of literatures - the knowledge-based view of the firm and the dispersed work. The aim, also, is to examine the implications of dispersed knowledge work on firms, especially knowledge intensive firms that are increasingly conducting dispersed work.Design/methodology/approach ‐ The literatures are reviewed and analyzed to examine why accessing and creating knowledge is problematic in dispersed work arrangements.Findings ‐ The findings raise the issue of understanding the important dynamics of the fit between the structure (dispersed versus face-to-face) and the strategy for managing dispersed knowledge (codification versus personalization strategy).Practical implications ‐ The paper is a useful resource for managers seeking to discern the social and technological interventions needed for conducting knowledge work in different types of knowledge-intensive firms.Originality/value ‐ This paper is among the early works to organize the two streams of literatures. The paper shows that virtual work may not necessarily be virtuous for all kinds of dispersed knowledge work. In order to realize the virtues of geographic distance, firms need to consider their competitive strategies and their outcomes of interest.