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Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications

Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications
Author(s)/Editor(s): Jerzy Kisielnicki (Warsaw University, Poland)
Copyright: ©2008
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-955-7
ISBN13: 9781599049557
ISBN10: 1599049554
EISBN13: 9781599049564


View Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications on the publisher's website for pricing and purchasing information.


Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications includes the most encompassing research of the concepts and realities involved in the field of virtual communities and technologies. This ground-breaking, multi-volume compendium of 167 chapters from a global pool of more than 350 experts presents an in-depth analysis of the technologies and social and economic impacts of virtual environments.

Comprising such topics as collaborative technologies, resource-based view strategy, Structuration theory, synchronous and asynchronous environments, and videoconferencing life-cycle, this three-volume compendium is the defining core of research for the field of virtual technologies. Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications enlivens the coverage within the field of virtual technologies while providing the fundamental research base necessary for any library.

Table of Contents



Within the past decade, the Internet has developed into a pervasive social and organizational force and, subsequently, face-to-face interaction has been practically replaced by virtual interaction among members of every facet of society. Virtual teams and communities have blurred cultural divisions and fostered relationships that were previously impractical and difficult to sustain. The development, advancement, and implementation of virtual technologies and communities have profoundly impacted the modern economic, educational, and organizational landscape. From enabling the creation of a virtual museum to transforming the structure of the modern workplace, virtual technologies are both an invisible and powerful force in society.

As the study of virtual technologies and their application has grown in both number and popularity, researchers and educators have devised a variety of techniques and methodologies to develop, deliver, and, at the same time, evaluate the effectiveness of their use. The explosion of methodologies in the field has created an abundance of new, state-of-the-art literature related to all aspects of this expanding discipline. This body of work allows researchers to learn about the fundamental theories, latest discoveries, and forthcoming trends in the field of virtual technologies.

Constant technological and theoretical innovation challenges researchers to stay abreast of and continue to develop and deliver methodologies and techniques utilizing the discipline’s latest advancements. In order to provide the most comprehensive, in-depth, and current coverage of all related topics and their applications, as well as to offer a single reference source on all conceptual, methodological, technical, and managerial issues in virtual technology, Information Science Reference is pleased to offer a three-volume reference collection on this rapidly growing discipline. This collection aims to empower researchers, students, and practitioners by facilitating their comprehensive understanding of the most critical areas within this field of study.

This collection, entitled Virtual Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, is organized into eight distinct sections, which are as follows: 1) Fundamental Concepts and Theories; 2) Development and Design Methodologies; 3) Tools and Technologies; 4) Utilization and Application; 5) Organizational and Social Implications; 6) Managerial Impact; 7) Critical Issues; and 8) Emerging Trends. The following paragraphs provide a summary of what is covered in each section of this multi-volume reference collection.

Section One, Fundamental Concepts and Theories, serves as a foundation for this exhaustive reference tool by addressing crucial theories essential to understanding virtual technologies. Opening this elemental section is “Going Virtual” by Evangelia Baralou and Jill Shepherd, which offers a basic overview of the emergence of virtual communities, networks, and technologies and their social and organizational implications. “Construction of Collaborative Virtual Environments” by Anthony Steed and Emmanuel Frécon provides insight into the difficulties faced when designing and implementing collaborative virtual environments. Additional contributions, such as “Exploring the Virtual Learning Environment” by Teresa Torres-Coronas and “Knowledgeable Navigation in Virtual Environments” by Pedram Sadeghian, Mehmed Kantardzic, and Sherif Rashad, give users of virtual technologies and participants in virtual environments a how-to guide for navigating and understanding an increasingly virtual world. The expertly researched contributions within this section also present an introduction to the emergence of virtual teams as an essential part of the modern-day workforce. Janet Schoenfeld and Zane Berge question the success of virtual teams in both education and business in their contribution “Bringing Out the Best in Virtual Teams,” ultimately determining that, with the right training and guidelines, virtual teams can be just as successful as face-to-face teams. Similarly, researchers D. Sandy Staples, Ian K. Wong, and Ann Frances Cameron devise a list of best practices for the use of virtual teams in an organizational setting in their chapter “Best Practices for Effective Virtual Teams.” The selections within this comprehensive, foundational section enable readers to learn from expert research on the elemental theories underscoring virtual technologies and communities.

Section Two, Development and Design Methodologies, contains in-depth coverage of conceptual architectures and frameworks, providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding of emerging theoretical and conceptual advances within the development and utilization of virtual technologies. “A Collaborative Virtual Geographic Environment: Design and Development” by Jianhua Gong and Hui Lin offers an approach to designing a 3D world that allows users to explore and solve geoproblems. Other selections, such as “Developing Virtual Communities in Transition Economies” by Panagiotis Damaskopoulos and Rimantas Gatautis, analyze the emergence of virtual communities in developing nations and argue that the development of such communities plays an integral role in a region’s potential for economic growth. The successful design of virtual technologies and communities in an educational setting is researched and described in selections such as “From WebQuests to Virtual Learning: A Study on Students’ Perception of Factors Affecting Design and Development of Online Learning” by Robert Zheng. Within their contribution “Contextualized Virtual Science Centers,” researchers Andreas Zimmermann, Andreas Lorenz, and Marcus Specht explain the specific design methodologies for the creation of virtual museums and exhibits and how these methodologies enable the creation of an interactive environment for individual users. From basic designs to abstract development, chapters such as “Reflective Designing for Actors and Avatars in Virtual Worlds” by Sisse Siggaard Jensen and “Modeling Work Processes and Examining Failure in Virtual Design Organizations” by Steven P. MacGregor serve to expand the reaches of development and design methodologies within the field of virtual technologies.

Section Three, Tools and Technologies, presents extensive coverage of various tools and technologies and their use in creating and expanding the reaches of virtuality. Specifically, the use of agent technology is explored in the selection “Enabling the Virtual Organization with Agent Technology” by Tor Guimaraes. Within this contribution, Guimaraes contends that the application of particular technologies within an organization aids in solving the issues faced by virtual companies. The use of avatars and their potential benefits in collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) is discussed in Koon-Ying Raymond Li’s “3D Avatars and Collaborative Virtual Environments.” Another technology derived from virtual communities, the concept of “virtual twin,” is presented and discussed in Alexandre Gachet and Pius Haettenschwiler’s “The Virtual Twin: A Socialization Agent for Peer-to-Peer Networks.” In this selection, a “virtual twin” is defined as an agent in a peer-to-peer network that enables socialization and promotes networked behavior through its interaction with specific users. Other tools for the advancement of virtual technologies that are described in this section include Computer Mediated Technologies (CMTs), whose application to education is outlined in Karen Rohrbauck Stout’s “Computer Mediated Technology as Tools for Social Interaction and Educational Processes: The Implications for Developing Virtual Teams” and virtual teachers, which are explored in Howard Leung and Taku Komura’s contribution “Web-Based Handwriting Education with Animated Virtual Teacher.” These rigorously researched chapters provide readers with countless examples of the up-and-coming tools and technologies that emerge from or can be applied to the multidimensional field of virtual technologies.

Section Four, Utilization and Application, explores the ways in which virtual technologies and communities have been adopted and implemented in all facets of society. This collection of innovative research begins with “Virtual Integration: Antecedents and Role in Governing Supply Chain Integration” by Jeffrey C. F. Tai, Eric T. G. Wang, and Kai Wang, a selection documenting the role that virtual integration has had in improving manufacturing performance. The many applications of virtual reality, which include its use in business, education, and even medicine are explored in selections such as “Distributed Virtual Reality Learning Environments” by Sam Redfern, Micheál Colhoun, Jordi Hernandez, Niall Naughton, and Damien Noonan and “Virtual Reality in Medicine” by Theodoros N. Arvanitis. Despite its seemingly widespread use, however, virtual reality has yet to be as pervasive as was initially thought—an issue that is chronicled in the selection “Context Based Approach to Applying Virtual Reality” by Manumaya Uniyal and Ray Dawson. Within their research, Uniyal and Dawson provide a more basic overview of the 30-year history of virtual reality and explain why, despite the fact that we now live in a “virtual world,” virtual reality has been unable to influence the market to the extent that it could have. From established applications to forthcoming innovations, contributions in this section provide excellent coverage of today’s global community and demonstrate how virtual technologies impact the social, economic, and political fabric of our present-day global village.

Section Five, Organizational and Social Implications, includes a wide range of research pertaining to the organizational and cultural implications of virtual technologies and communities. Introducing this section is “Culture in Virtual Communities” by Li Xiao, a selection that questions the cultural implications of virtual groups and proposes the use of an already-existing model to better understand this previously uncharted dimension of virtual communities. Particular issues related to virtual teams, such as the emergence of leaders, the need for creativity, and the difficulty in achieving successful communication, are discussed in contributions such as “Perceived Behaviors of Emergent and Assigned Leaders in Virtual Groups” by Kathryn R. Wickham and Joseph B. Walther, “Creativity in Asynchronous Virtual Teams: Putting the Pieces Together” by Rosalie J. Ocker, and “Culture and Communication Challenges in Virtual Workspaces” by Bolanle A. Olaniran. Olaniran’s selection, in particular, sheds light on one of the most pressing issues related to virtual workplaces—the difficulty in transforming a “traditional” team to a virtual one and the subsequent cultural and social obstacles an organization must overcome in order to successfully make this transition. Overall, the discussions presented in this section offer insight into the integration of virtual technologies into society and how the resultant virtual communities can be better structured and implemented in modern-day organizations.

Section Six, Managerial Impact, presents contemporary coverage of one of the most widely researched topics in virtual communities—virtual teams within organizations. Core ideas such as leadership, trust, and the unique challenges that arise in relation to virtual team implementation are discussed in this collection. “The Dynamics of Virtual Teams” by Norhayati Zakaria and Shafiz A. Mohd Yusof defines the concept of virtual team and then presents core issues related to the development and implementation of virtual teams, which include comprehensive training, trust, and both understanding and overcoming the cultural barriers that exist among team members. Similarly, contributions such as “An Examination of Team Trust in Virtual Environments” by Martha C. Yopp and “Developing Trust in Virtual Teams” by Niki Panteli examine not only the importance of establishing trust within virtual organizations, but also the methods for doing so, which include establishing shared, team-based goals and eliminating a power struggle among members. This section concludes with the contribution “Analyzing the Quality of Virtual Teams” by Robert M. Verburg, J. H. Erik Andriessen, and Joris P. G. de Rooij, which applies a specific model of group functioning, the Dynamic Group Interaction model, to virtual team analysis. Considering a number of factors, such as effectiveness, type of communication, and quality of group processes, this model ultimately highlights the issues of team building, awareness, preparation, and information storage that a successful virtual team must address and overcome.

Section Seven, Critical Issues, presents readers with an in-depth analysis of the more theoretical and conceptual issues within this growing field of study by addressing topics such as ethics, conflicts and gender in virtual environments. Specifically, questions regarding ethical behavior and ethical research are presented in selections such as “Codes of Ethics in Virtual Communities” by Cãlin Gurãu and “Conducting Ethical Research in Virtual Environments” by Lynne D. Roberts, Leigh M. Smith, and Clare M. Pollock. Later chapters, which include “The Desire for Cohesion in Virtual Teams: Be Careful What You Wish For” by John McAvoy and Tom Butler and “Team Effectiveness in Virtual Environments: An Ecological Approach” by Pnina Shachaf and Noriko Hara, explore the different questions, theories, and approaches related to virtual team effectiveness and unity and, consequently, provide different solutions to the known issues in virtual teams. “Community and Gender in the Virtual Classroom” by Alfred P. Rova and Jason D. Baker argues that since gender differences in face-to-face communication carry over into the virtual environment, online teaching should be adapted to promote interaction between diverse groups of individuals. In all, the theoretical and abstract issues presented and analyzed within this collection form the backbone of revolutionary virtual technology research and inquiry.

The concluding section of this authoritative reference tool, Emerging Trends, highlights research potential within the field of virtual technologies while exploring uncharted areas of study for the advancement of the discipline. New trends in virtual technology and virtual community research discussed in this section include virtual interaction among mobile phone users, which is explored within “Mobile Virtual Communities” by Christo El Morr, virtual reality shopping malls, which are explained in “Adaptive Virtual Reality Shopping Malls” by George Lepouras and Costas Vassilakis, and digital watermarking in virtual communities, which is discussed by Huayin Si and Chang-Tsun Li in their contribution “Copyright Protection in Virtual Communities through Digital Watermarking.” The future of virtual technology in education is presented in “Building the Virtual into Teacher Education” by Gloria Latham and Julie Faulkner and “Expanding Distance Education in the Spatial Sciences Through Virtual Learning Entities and a Virtual GIS Computer Laboratory” by S. Grunwald, V. Ramasundaram, G. L. Bruland, and D. K. Jesseman. The former of these selections describes how new designs for virtual education seek to expand the reaches of distance learning and redefine the concepts of teaching and learning. This final section demonstrates that the future of virtual technologies, with their infinite potential for growth and change, promises to be as influential as its storied history.

Although the contents of this multi-volume book are organized within the preceding eight sections which offer a progression of coverage of the important concepts, methodologies, technologies, applications, social issues, and emerging trends, the reader can also identify specific contents by utilizing the extensive indexing system listed at the end of each volume. Furthermore, to ensure that the scholar, researcher, and educator have access to the entire contents of this multi-volume set, as well as additional coverage that could not be included in the print version of this publication, the publisher will provide unlimited, multi-user electronic access to the online aggregated database of this collection for the life of the edition, free of charge when a library purchases a print copy. In addition to providing content not included within the print version, this aggregated database is also continually updated to ensure that the most current research is available to those interested in virtual technologies.

As virtual communities and related technologies have evolved within the past two decades, what was once impossible is now attainable. The world in which we now live has become increasingly virtual, allowing researchers and decision makers around the globe to interact freely in an environment overflowing with diverse ideas, knowledge, and criticism. Many scholars in the field tackle the crucial issue of how to properly construct and manage virtual teams and the distinct challenges these groups face in order to be successful. Such research has implications in describing the effective navigation of virtual environments, advancements in distance education, and the construction and management of a virtual economy. With continued innovation in virtual technologies and their applications and ongoing research into the best ways to navigate and manage the ever-increasing number of virtual communities and environments, the discipline will continue to grow and transform as virtuality becomes reality.

The diverse and comprehensive coverage of virtual technologies in this three-volume, authoritative publication will contribute to a better understanding of all topics, research, and discoveries in this developing, significant field of study. Furthermore, the contributions included in this multi-volume collection series will be instrumental in the expansion of the body of knowledge in this enormous field, resulting in a greater understanding of the fundamentals while also fueling the research initiatives in emerging fields. We at Information Science Reference, along with the editor of this collection, hope that this multi-volume collection will become instrumental in the expansion of the discipline and will promote the continued growth of virtual technologies.


Reviews and Testimonials

This collection aims to empower researchers, students, and practitioners by facilitating their comprehensive understanding of the most critical areas within this field of study.

– Jerzy Kisielnicki, Warsaw University, Poland

This book will appeal to a broad readership for the detailed, hands-on descriptions it provides of a wide variety of projects carried out worldwide.

– Book News Inc. (Nov. 2008)

Author's/Editor's Biography

Jerzy Kisielnicki (Ed.)
Jerzy Kisielnicki is a full professor and Head of Department of Organization and Management in the School of Economics at Warsaw University. His major areas of research include organization and management, systems analysis, management information systems, process innovation, strategic management, transition systems organizations and management in market economy.


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