Process virtualization theory

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Process virtualization theory



Alternate name(s)

Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Process virtualizability - A continuous variable describing how amenable a process is to being conducted without physical interaction between people or between people and objects.

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Main factors: sensory requirements, relationship requirements, synchronism requirements, identification and control requirements Moderating factors: representation, reach, monitoring capability

Concise description of theory

In our increasingly virtual society, more and more processes that have traditionally been conducted via physical mechanisms are being conducted virtually. This phenomenon of "process virtualization" is happening in many contexts, including formal education (via distance learning), shopping (via electronic commerce), and friendship development (via social networking sites and virtual worlds). However, some processes are more amenable to virtualization than others. For example, distance learning seems to work better for some educational processes than others, and electronic commerce has worked well for some shopping processes but not for others. These observations motivate the following question: What factors affect the "virtualizability" of a process? This question is becoming increasingly important as advances in information technology create the potential for society to virtualize more and more processes. The purpose of "process virtualization theory" is to provide a general theoretical basis for investigating this question. Process virtualization theory includes four main constructs (sensory requirements, relationship requirements, synchronism requirements, and identification and control requirements) that affect whether a process is amenable or resistant to being conducted virtually. Recognizing that processes can be virtualized with or without the use of information technology, process virtualization theory makes explicit the theoretical significance of information technology in process virtualization by discussing the moderating effects of representation, reach, and monitoring capability. This helps explain how advances in information technology are enabling a new generation of virtual processes.

- Summary adapted from Overby, E.M. 2008. "Process Virtualization Theory and the Impact of Information Technology," Organization Science (19:2), March-April, pp. 277-291.

Diagram/schematic of theory

Pvt schematic.JPG

Originating author(s)

Eric Overby

Seminal articles

Overby, E.M. 2008. "Process Virtualization Theory and the Impact of Information Technology," Organization Science (19:2), March-April, pp. 277-291.

Originating area

Information Systems - developer of theory is IS scholar

Level of analysis

Process and/or technology

IS articles that use the theory

Czarnecki, C.; Winkelmann, A.; Spiliopoulou, M. 2010. "Services in Electronic Telecommunication Markets: A Framework for Planning the Virtualization of Processes," Electronic Markets (20:3-4), pp. 197-207.

Links from this theory to other theories

Diffusion of innovations theory
Technology acceptance model
Task-technology fit

External links

Original Contributor(s)

Eric Overby

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