Lee LeFever points to an interesting abstract at Harvard Business Online. The gist of it is that projects really can succeed in the virutal world. Note the importance of "shrewd management" of the work processes and the social network. As long as the team knows their collective and individual responsibilities, they are clearly able to achieve their goals. Those that aren't able to do this will fail, no matter if they are virtual or collacated.
Havard Business Online: Can Absence Make a Team Grow Stronger?
Some projects have such diverse requirements that they need a variety of specialists to work on them. But often the best-qualified specialists are scattered around the globe, perhaps at several companies. Remarkably, an extensive benchmarking study reveals, it isn't necessary to bring team members together to get their best work. In fact, they can be even more productive if they stay separated and do all their collaborating virtually. The scores of successful virtual teams the authors examined didn't have many of the psychological and practical obstacles that plagued their more traditional, face-to-face counterparts. Team members felt freer to contribute--especially outside their established areas of expertise. The fact that such groups could not assemble easily actually made their projects go faster, as people did not wait for meetings to make decisions, and individuals, in the comfort of their own offices, had full access to their files and the complementary knowledge of their local colleagues. Reaping those advantages, though, demanded shrewd management of a virtual team's work processes and social dynamics. Rather than depend on videoconferencing or e-mail, which could be unwieldy or exclusionary, successful virtual teams made extensive use of sophisticated online team rooms, where everyone could easily see the state of the work in progress, talk about the work in ongoing threaded discussions, and be reminded of decisions, rationales, and commitments. Differences were most effectively hashed out in teleconferences, which team leaders also used to foster group identity and solidarity.