Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Keith Mathis


Project Management, Virtual Project Teams, Virtual Project Leadership, Trust, Communication




Virtual project teams gained wider acceptance in organizations over the past 30 years, supported by improved communications technology and spurred by global competition. Virtual working arrangements provide benefits to employers, employees, and the environment. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021 stimulated the transition from traditional to virtual project teams. Project management in the virtual environment requires different skills than leading in the collocated environment. Skills that lead to successful project outcomes in the traditional environment do not simply transfer to the virtual environment. Project managers must focus on new skills, especially those that contribute to developing open communication and building trust. This qualitative case study examined the problem that some project managers lack the skills to lead in the virtual environment, resulting in reduced project efficiency, productivity, and overall success. This case study also filled a gap in the literature, providing real-world best practices of project management leadership skills applied in the virtual environment. Seventeen (17) virtual project team managers and project team members from the MITRE Corporation, a leader in the government contracting industry, shared their experiences leading successful project teams. Through semi-structured interviews, coding, and analysis, five main themes emerged: Importance of Communication to the Success of Virtual Project Teams, Importance of Trust on the Performance of Virtual Project Teams, The Effective Implementation of Technology is Foundational to the Success of Virtual Project Teams, Virtual Project Teams Create Advantages, and Virtual Project Teams Present Challenges. The practical application of these themes resulted in nine lessons learned. Understanding these themes and applying the lessons learned should improve the practice of project management, general business, and virtual project success.

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Business Commons