Introduction

This paper reports on learning from a pan-European project, established to support small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) managers to do business in the digital world. We take as our focus the collaboration that occurred amongst the partners as they attempted to work in a virtual network in pursuit of the main project objectives.

The new millennium has seen the continuation of earlier massive changes in culture, society and education, based around new technologies. According to Steeples and Jones (2002) the explosive growth of the Web has been a major driver of educational changes at all levels. The Internet has emerged from its military beginnings and a period of academic development into a general, social and commercial resource in the 1990s. Speaking of changes within universities, Spender, 2000 has said:

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 20/4/5 (2005) 211-217

e Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0885-8624] [DOI 10.1108/08858620510603882]

The process is technology driven. Just as steam and electricity changed the way we organised society, ... we are now caught up in the digital revolution.

More broadly, Steeples and Jones (2002) see a network society to have emerged, which has impacted on the debate about skills as well as highlighting the needs of a knowledge-based economy. This is perhaps not surprising given the virtual and distributed environments in which many people and project managers are working. For example, Tsoukas (1993) describes people managers as having a variety of communication technologies to help them to co-ordinate dispersed activities. The implication is that this is very different to more "traditional" environments where face-to-face interactions on a daily basis are managed under the same roof.

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