In its scenario development activities, the MIT Working Group considered a variety of possible driving forces that might shape twenty-first century organizations, all of which could have served as the basis for intriguing scenarios. The Working Group chose to focus on one major uncertainty which emerged repeatedly in the discussions: the size of individual companies. This led to a set of scenarios that posed the question: Will organizations in the future be much larger, much smaller, or not very different in size from the organizations we know today? In order to stimulate creative thinking, the group imagined two extremes on this dimension: very small companies and very large companies.
Thus, the first scenario focuses on how work might be organized in ever-shifting networks of small firms and individual contractors; the second focuses on how work might be organized in huge, long-lasting, and all-encompassing holding companies. These two scenarios are called "Small Companies, Large Networks" and "Virtual Countries".
Even though these two scenarios were originally conceived of as extremes on the dimension of company size, it is also possible to think of them as extremes on the dimension of organizational longevity. The small companies in the first scenario can participate in very large, temporary networks of thousands of people. But these temporary organizations (or "virtual companies") may only exist for a few weeks, days, or hours until the project that brings the network together is completed. The large "virtual countries", on the other hand, expect to last for decades or even centuries while projects, people, and whole industries come and go within their boundaries.