The effectiveness of the virtual organization (VO) creation process is a critical element in collaborative networks. Early works on VO creation assumed that partners could be quickly identified and selected from the open universe of existing enterprises /organizations, and engaged into a collaboration network. This assumption however overlooks a number of important obstacles in this process among which the following can be mentioned (Afsarmanesh & Camarinha-Matos, 2005; Camarinha-Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2003; Camarinha-Matos et al., 2005b): How to know about the mere existence of potential partners in the open universe and deal with incompatible and limited sources of information? How to acquire basic profile information about organizations, when there is no common template or standard format? How to quickly and reliably establish an inter-operable collaboration infrastructure, given the heterogeneity of organizations at multi-levels, and the diversity of their interaction systems? How to build trust among organizations, which is the base for any collaboration? How to quickly develop and agree on the common principles of sharing and working together? How to quickly define the agreements on the roles and responsibilities of each partner, to reflect sharing of tasks, the rights on the produced results, etc.? The situation is not too critical in the case of long-term collaboration processes not limited to a single business opportunity, such as in the case of supply chains (case A in Figure 1). In this case the costs (and time) of preparation for collaboration are affordable given the long term perspectives. On the other hand (case C in Figure 1), for some specific niche sectors in which all actors share the same or compatible tools, business culture and practices, it is possible to quickly form a consortium even for a short-term single opportunity. For the other cases the situation is much more critical. Particularly when the window of opportunity is short, in order to support rapid formation of collaborative networks it is necessary that potential partners are prepared and ready to participate in such collaboration. Preparedness includes common interoperable infrastructure, common operating rules, and common cooperation agreement, among others. Any collaboration also requires a base level of trust among the organizations. In this case a working solution is the creation of a long-term association of entities that prepare themselves to cooperate whenever an opportunity arises. This association is a VO Breeding Environment (VBE) (Afsarmanesh & Camarinha-Matos, 2005; Camarinha-Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2003; Camarinha-Matos et al., 2005b) for the creation of dynamic VOs (case B in Figure 1). (Figure presented) The ECOLEAD project focus on VO creation process as that happen in the context of a VO Breeding Environment (VBE) (Camarinha-Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2003; Camarinha-Matos & Oliveira, 2005; Rabelo et al., 2000). This long term collaborative association is composed of organizations that are prepared to collaborate and thus may rapidly respond to a collaboration opportunity. VBE makes it possible to collect and maintain data of the profile of VBE members. Furthermore, this enables the use of more sophisticated selection criteria, including aspects such as trust and historical collaboration performance. This would not be possible in an "open universe", since there is no practical means for collecting the necessary data. As illustrated in Figure 2, it shall be noted that VBE creation and VO creation are different processes, triggered by different motivations. A VBE is created as a long term "controlled border" association and its members are recruited from the "open universe" of organizations according to the criteria defined by the VBE creators or administrators. A VO is a temporary organization triggered by a specific business /collaboration opportunity. Its partners are primarily selected from the VBE members. In case there is a lack of skills or capacity inside the VBE, organizations can be recruited from outside. (Figure presented) It is therefore necessary to develop an approach and a supporting framework to facilitate the VO creation process in order to make it effective. This chapter describes the approach developed by the ECOLEAD project for the concepts of VO creation within the context of VBE and introduces a set of developed services in the form of tools to support the various steps of the VO creation process.
|Title of host publication||Methods and Tools for Collaborative Networked Organizations|
|Editors||L. M. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmanesh, M. Ollus|
|Place of Publication||Boston, MA|
|Number of pages||36|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2008|