The virtual organization has become popular with the rapid growth of electronic commerce and is regarded as one of the promising new organizational forms of the future. The jury is still out whether virtual organizations work well in all business settings. The authors address a variety of essential characteristics, design principles and enablers of virtual organizations, while recognizing that flexibility is the main goal when forming virtual organizations. They discern that virtual organizations manifest themselves across many boundaries: time and space, as well as legal definitions. Improved support of economic activities via modern information systems is a promising strategy for the expansion of human performance limits. Trust counts as a decisive coordination mechanism for virtual organizations. Conversely, opportunistic human behavior, in the sense of pursuing self-interests at another person's expense, causes risks. Several limitations, however, can be recognized, including the technical infrastructure, as well as human behavioral patterns imposed on institutions.