Today it is taken for granted that firms, governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will participate routinely in initiatives involving partners and resources from multiple world regions and time zones. For example, firms such as Google routinely undertake software development projects with teams of globally-distributed employees working together in real-time via web-enabled collaborative work-space applications. After the Asian tsunami in 2004, private firms, government agencies, NGOs, and international volunteers from more than thirty nations came together in a disaster relief effort of unprecedented transnational proportions. The Channel Tunnel constructed between England and France was a cross-border, public–private partnership among two governments and multiple private sector firms from around the world – including legal advisors, financiers, designers, contractors, and equipment vendors.
Few, if any, major projects in the modern era rely exclusively on people or resources from a single host country or sponsor. The new strategic environment for such projects is global, technology-enabled, interconnected, and dynamic.
Globally networked organizational arrangements are underpinned by technologies that have emerged since the 1970s for rapid human travel, information sharing, and interpersonal connectivity. Today a FedEX package can be delivered anywhere in the world in just 24 hours. The standard Windows–Intel personal computer system enables instant file sharing across boundaries of nation, language, and race. Mobile telephones enable instant communications without heed to physical proximity.
Technological progress has altered the relative efficiency and competitiveness of different organizational structures and strategies. Large, slow-moving, industrial-era hierarchies are losing their dominance (Walsh, Meyer, and Schoonhoven 2006).