University Libraries & Learning Sciences Faculty and Staff Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter presents the case for strong leadership to develop an internationally distributed virtual workforce. It is a speculative approach to how work and workers may behave in a future where most of their work and interactions will be virtual and disconnected from their physical location. The lessons that can be learned from the natural world are explored especially from complexity theories. Examples are provided of natural systems in action and the insights others have drawn from these theories and how this may inform decision-making, risk-taking and the management of virtual workers. The impact of the Internet on knowledge creation and discovery is explored. These theories and trends have important implications for leaders and managers and for stimulating creativity and innovation. One can speculate that in future digital workers will live in two realities; the @-Home-culture and the @-Large-culture. Knowledge workers of the future will be able to create a healthy balance between these two realities by working digitally in a global system and benefiting financially, but also living and participating fully in their local or national culture. Ultimately this may lead to more tolerance and opportunities to distribute work and wealth in ways that equalize rather than divide people.

Publication Title

The Role of Humanity in the Information Age

Language (ISO)



Virtual work, International cooperation, Complex adaptive systems, Complexity, Natural systems, Internet, Knowledge management, Creativity, Work, Culture, Information age, Global economy


Invited chapter in: Ricardo Baeza-Yates, ed. THE ROLE OF HUMANITY IN THE INFORMATION AGE: An Ibero-American Perspective, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile. [Online at: Chapter completed and accepted by Editor, 1/30/2002.]



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