LIRNEasia , as a regional think tank, ideally seeks dynamic presence in every country it serves than confining itself to one central location. This calls for a “virtual organization” by identifying a sustainable model for regional collaboration and through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Such framework provides the highest mobility and flexibility for its researchers and staff to operate. While taking the advantage of minimum physical movement, it creates a new virtual layer where the geographical precincts rarely matters for effective performance.
LIRNEasia ’s research project on Virtual Organisation (VO) has two aspects; developing the VO and using it to conduct LIRNEasia ’s other research projects. This case study describes our efforts, outcome and lessons learnt. It is intended for any research/civil society (or even private sector or government) organisation, with limited staff that plans to work from geographically distant locations. It is also for project based organisations with limited overhead budgets.
Different models and characteristics of VO were identified. A key characteristic is the use of ICTs as a foundation. However, the VO models vary. Some operate VO models as a temporary solution to link few entities working together on a particular project, while others see it as a web based operation like eBay and Amazon.com, with a skeleton backend staff.
A comparison is made to map LIRNEasia into these structures. A key observation is while the unique LIRNEasia model shows some overlap in characteristics such as flexibility, responsiveness, improved quality of work and cost reduction, it does not perfectly fit into any definition described, largely because LIRNEasia ’s model emerges from necessity rather than building a VO for the sake of it.
Analysis of the usage LIRNEasia ’s web portal, a key component of its VO structure shows a linear increase and substantial use by ‘quality users’. Summary of technical features too are provide for the use of those who want to emulate.
The key lessons of the case study are that VOs are realistic, similar small sized organisations can benefit VO model if the decisions are made on necessities and VO mostly means a reduction in information systems expenditure, rather than an increase.
The project was initiated by Divakar Goswami and completed by Chanuka Wattegama and Nilusha Kapugama.
The Virtual Organisation Report is available here.