The following items relate to telecommuting and virtual work arrangements.
Gray, P. and Westfall, R. (1995) "Agency Theory and Telecommuting,"
OR/MS Today (22)4, p. 24.
This sidebar provides a brief description of agency theory and notes
the relevance of agency theory constructs, such as outcome- and behavior-based
contracts, to telecommuting.
PonTell, S., Gray, P., Markus, M. L., and Westfall, R. D. (1996) "The Demand for Telecommuting," Proceedings
of the Telecommuting '96 Conference, R. T. Watson and R.
P. Bostrom (eds.), Jacksonville, FL.
This paper summarizes findings of the WorkSmart Project's case studies on the potential impacts of telecommuting and other alternative work arrangements
at Southern California offices of Caltrans, Chiat/Day, GTEL and KPMG Peat Marwick. My primary contribution was a section on the impacts of agency
theory and institutional theory constructs on the demand for telecommuting.
Westfall, R. D. (2004)
"Does Telecommuting Really Increase Productivity?" Communications
of the ACM (47)8, pp. 93-96.
This paper raises serious concerns about the widely
held--but inadequately supported--idea that telecommuting leads to large
increases in productivity. (Also see two letters and author's rebuttal in the Forum section of the (47)11 issue in November 2004.)
Westfall, R. D. (1997) "
Does Telecommuting Really Increase Productivity? Fifteen Rival Hypotheses,"
Indianapolis, IN: AIS Americas Conference, pp. 405-407.
This paper identifies 15 factors that could lead to an erroneous conclusion that telecommuting increases productivity. To be valid, research on
telecommuting productivity needs to take these factors into account. The paper also includes a two-dimensional economic analysis of telecommuting costs and benefits based on different
levels of a) employee compensation and b) telecommuting days per week.
Westfall, R. D. (1997) Remote Work: a Conceptual Perspective on the Demand for Telecommuting (abstract),
unpublished doctoral dissertation, Claremont, CA: Claremont Graduate School.
The dissertation examines the demand for remote work. From the perspective of agency theory, it hypothesizes that typical telecommuting implementations
shift the employment relationship from behavior-based to outcome-based contracts. From an institutional theory perspective, it hypothesizes that typical telecommuting implementations
reduce the perceived legitimacy of telecommuting. The dissertation also develops a comprehensive economic model of the costs and benefits of telecommuting at different salary levels and
varying telecommuting days per week.
Westfall, R. D. (1996) "Telemovers and Shakers," Internet-published internal memoing from WorkSmart research
A little "think piece," developed for the amusement of the members of the project team.
Westfall, R. D. (1998) "The
Microeconomics of Remote Work," chapter in The Virtual Workplace, M. Igbaria and
M. Tan (eds.), Harrisburg, PA: Idea Group Publishing, pp. 256-287.
This chapter provides a revised and enhanced version of the economic model in the dissertation. The analysis includes productivity gains, compensation
levels, explicit and implicit support costs, telecommuting days per week, occupancy cost savings, impacts of reduced face-to-face access, and startup costs.
Westfall, R. D. (1997) "The
Telecommuting Paradox," Information
Systems Management (14)4, pp.
This paper summarizes the agency theory and institutional theory arguments from the dissertation
to explain why telecommuting usage is relatively low in spite of the perceived benefits.
Westfall, R. and Gray, P. (1995) "Forum: Considerations
for the Virtual Office," Communications of the ACM (38)12, pp.
A letter to the editor, raising questions about the contents of an article on the virtual office in a previous issue.
Other Telecommuting Research
Director of the Center for Global Electronic Commerce and
Assistant Professor of Information Systems in the Department of Accounting and
Information Systems at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on the use of telecommunication technologies in
organizations, in particular for distributed work arrangements, electronic
commerce, and distance learning.
Other Telecommuting Links
A reliable source of information on telecommuting.
The Telecommunications and Travel Behavior Research Program, University
of California, Davis conducts academic research on transportation issues.
Studies are rigorous, with good documentation of sources and supporting
Gil Gordon has been active in the telecommuting field for many years. Site contains a
substantial amount of useful content.
Another useful source.
Although written in 1909, this science fiction short story by E. M. Forster presages much of what is now described as virtual (telecommuting, virtual office, distance
Disclaimer. Although Ralph Westfall is a member of the
Some Information Systems Professional Association, the telecommuting research materials on this page
reflect his personal perspectives and are not intended to represent any policies or positions of that organization.