The construction industry and institutions of further and higher education are currently grappling with the challenges and opportunities of operating in ‘virtual’ environments. Within the industry environment, a key factor in achieving successful project outcomes is the nature of the relationship between members of project teams, including clients, designers, contractors, suppliers and sub-contractors. Similarly, the efficacy of pedagogic interaction is reliant upon relationships between lecturers and students, and between disparate bodies such as peer groups, professional institutions, suppliers and others. This paper brings together the findings and observations from two projects. In relation to the industry perspective, it reports on the initial phase of a scoping study which aims to investigate project team dynamics from the standpoint of “people and process” issues. A key finding of this research is, not unexpectedly, that project management and virtual team literature share many common themes, and that a greater understanding of how new, and different, knowledge and skills are required by teams to work in virtual environments is critical. Within the education arena, the paper reports on the delivery and usage of the MERIT simulation within the ‘problem based learning’ environment of the Bachelor of Construction Management (Building) at the University of Newcastle, Australia. This exercise is currently delivered in ‘face-to-face’ mode with teams interacting electronically with a game controller situated at a remote location. Project management of the exercise has proved to be a key issue. This paper collates the key issues and lessons elicited from industry and academia, and presents recommendations for the effective project management of virtual teams. The knowledge and skills students acquire during their studies are mapped against industry needs, specifically in the context of operating in virtual environments. In addition, the impact of the growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on teams is discussed, specifically in terms of how its implementation affects project teams, and the individuals within them.
BEAR 2003: CIB W089 International Conference on Building Education and Research. Proceedings of the CIB W089 International Conference on Building Education and Research (Salford, UK 9-11 April, 2003) p. 1157-1169