Global virtual team members' perceptions

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Global virtual team members' perceptions

  1. 1. GLOBAL VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEADER PRACTICES A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University Sarasota College of Business In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education By LaBrita Jeanene Cash-Baskett June 2011
  2. 2. UMI Number: 3467502 All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. UMI 3467502 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
  3. 3. ii GLOBAL VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEADER PRACTICES Copyright © 2011 LaBrita Jeanene Cash-Baskett All rights reserved by the copyright owner.
  4. 4. iii GLOBAL VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEADER PRACTICES A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University Sarasota College of Business In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education By LaBrita Jeanene Cash-Baskett Argosy University/Sarasota June 2011 Dissertation Committee Approval: __________________________________ ________________________________ Gerald Strand, Ph.D. Chair Date __________________________________ Celia Edmundson, Ed.D. Member __________________________________ _________________________________ Evelyn Lim, Ed.D. Member Kathleen Cornett, Ph.D. Campus College Chair
  5. 5. iv GLOBAL VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEADER PRACTICES Abstract of Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University Sarasota College of Business In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education By LaBrita Jeanene Cash-Baskett Argosy University/Sarasota June 2011 Gerald Strand, Ph.D. Celia Edmundson, Ed.D. Evelyn Lim, Ed.D. Department: College of Business
  6. 6. v ABSTRACT Effective leadership and effective communication may be important predictors of effectiveness on global virtual teams. The purpose of this research were to: (a) identify the extent to which leadership communication skills and practices are perceived to be important factors to virtual team effectiveness; and (b) identify effective communication practices within global virtual teams. Participants in this study were from global virtual teams and members of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) (n=73). A grounded theory approach was employed using a mixed method design to collect interview and online survey data. Qualitative data were analyzed using coding and cross case analysis. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS software. Descriptive statistics and a one-way ANOVA were selected to analyze differences between demographic groups. The findings of this study validate existing research in that effective communication and leadership are important factors for ensuring virtual team effectiveness. A one-way ANOVA yielded significant differences between generational groups and gender groups: (a) younger participants perceived the maturity attribute to be less important than older participants; and (b) women participants perceived the use of humor to be less important communication skill than reported by men participants. Virtual team participants reported written, oral, nonverbal, social and listening skills as the top five communication skills, ranking them from most to least important. This study builds on existing leadership frameworks, input-processes-output and capabilities models. Conclusions of the study suggest that leading and managing effective
  7. 7. vi global virtual teams requires communication competence based on task and procedural behaviors, interpersonal, meeting facilitation and collaboration skills. The study’s findings link strongly to the literature, yet they identify areas in which additional research is needed. Four theoretical propositions lay the groundwork for future research.
  8. 8. vii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................v TABLE OF TABLES........................................................................................................xi TABLE OF FIGURES....................................................................................................xiii TABLE OF APPENDICES............................................................................................xiv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................xv DEDICATION................................................................................................................xvii CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM AND ITS COMPONENTS..................................1 Introduction..........................................................................................................................1 Problem Background............................................................................................................2 Purpose of the Study............................................................................................................6 Research Questions..............................................................................................................7 Definition of Terms..............................................................................................................7 Limitations/Delimitations ..................................................................................................11 Significance of the Study...................................................................................................14 Summary............................................................................................................................19 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE...............................................20 Defining Virtual Teams .....................................................................................................20 Characteristics of Effective Leadership.............................................................................21 Historical Perspectives of Virtual Teams...........................................................................24 Theoretical Models of Effective Teams...................................................................24 Leading Virtual Teams.............................................................................................31 Technology...............................................................................................................38 Collaboration............................................................................................................39 Cultural Differences .................................................................................................40 Success Factors in Global Virtual Teams..........................................................................41 Team Communication Factors .................................................................................43 Trust..........................................................................................................................45 Teamwork….............................................................................................................46 Interpersonal Relationships......................................................................................47 Best Practices............................................................................................................48 Challenges Faced by Virtual Teams ..................................................................................53 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY......................................................................58 Introduction........................................................................................................................58 Research Design.................................................................................................................58 Qualitative Grounded Theory...................................................................................58
  9. 9. viii TABLE OF CONTENTS (CONT.) Page Quantitative Grounded Theory.................................................................................60 The Grounded Theory Approach..............................................................................61 Sample Pool and Sampling Procedures .............................................................................63 Selection of Participants...........................................................................................65 Sampling Plan...........................................................................................................66 Informed Consent Procedures ..................................................................................67 Confidentiality Procedures.......................................................................................67 Data Collection Procedures................................................................................................67 Interviews.................................................................................................................68 Interview Procedures......................................................................................69 Interview Questions........................................................................................69 Summary Statements......................................................................................70 Instrumentation ..................................................................................................................70 Interview Guide........................................................................................................70 Open-ended Questions..............................................................................................72 Responses to Scaled Items........................................................................................73 Instrumentation and Research Questions .................................................................74 Validity and Reliability ............................................................................................76 Methodological Assumptions and Limitations.........................................................78 Data Analysis Procedures ..................................................................................................80 Qualitative Data Analysis.........................................................................................80 Generation of Themes ..............................................................................................81 Verification of Emergent Patterns............................................................................81 Confirmation of Emergent Themes and Patterns .....................................................82 Quantitative Data Analysis.......................................................................................82 Summary............................................................................................................................83 CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS......................................................................................84 Introduction........................................................................................................................84 Research Results................................................................................................................84 Research Question 1..................................................................................................85 Research Question 2..................................................................................................85 Research Question 3..................................................................................................87 Methodology......................................................................................................................87 Participant Selection .................................................................................................88 Participant Demographics ........................................................................................89 Qualitative Interview Participants............................................................................89 Characteristics of Effective Global Virtual Teams............................................................89 Context......................................................................................................................90 Composition..............................................................................................................93 Competencies............................................................................................................93 Change......................................................................................................................94 Qualitative Interview Findings ..........................................................................................97
  10. 10. ix TABLE OF CONTENTS (CONT.) Page Research Question 1...............................................................................................101 Environment.................................................................................................102 Leadership Practices.....................................................................................103 Role Clarity and Establishment of Leadership.............................................103 Synergy.........................................................................................................105 Leveraging Technology................................................................................107 Meeting Facilitation......................................................................................108 Adapting Communication Style...................................................................109 Cross Cultural Communication and Team Diversity ...................................110 Commitment.................................................................................................111 Empowerment...............................................................................................112 Trust..............................................................................................................113 Research Question 2...............................................................................................113 Characteristics of Clear Communication......................................................122 Research Question 3...............................................................................................124 Research Question 4...............................................................................................128 Research Question 5...............................................................................................132 Research Question 6...............................................................................................137 Research Question 7...............................................................................................142 Research Question 8...............................................................................................149 Research Question 9...............................................................................................154 Research Question 10.............................................................................................161 Emergent Themes ............................................................................................................167 Coding Patterns ......................................................................................................167 Phase II Quantitative Survey Data...................................................................................168 Survey Participant Demographics..........................................................................168 Quantitative Survey Findings.................................................................................169 Closed-ended Questions...............................................................................171 Rated Scale Questions..................................................................................173 Summary..........................................................................................................................178 CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS...............................................................................................179 Introduction......................................................................................................................179 Summary..........................................................................................................................179 Success Factors.......................................................................................................179 Challenges Virtual Teams Face..............................................................................181 Problem Statement..................................................................................................181 Methodology...........................................................................................................182 Discussion of the Findings...............................................................................................184 Summary of Emergent Themes..............................................................................184 Summary of Characteristics of Effective Global Virtual Teams............................184 Summary of Leadership Qualities..........................................................................185
  11. 11. x TABLE OF CONTENTS (CONT.) Page Summary of Characteristics of Effective Leadership Communications ................186 Summary of Communication Roles .......................................................................187 Summary of Critical Competencies for Global Virtual Team Leaders..................187 Summary of Essential Leadership Skills................................................................188 Summary of Communication Behaviors................................................................189 Task Behaviors.............................................................................................189 Procedural Behaviors....................................................................................189 Interpersonal Behaviors................................................................................190 Summary of Communication Tactics.....................................................................190 Summary of Technology........................................................................................191 Conclusions......................................................................................................................191 Theoretical Propositions.........................................................................................192 Proposition 1.................................................................................................192 Proposition 2.................................................................................................192 Proposition 3.................................................................................................194 Proposition 4.................................................................................................194 Implications for Future Research.....................................................................................195 Leadership ..............................................................................................................195 Behavioral Perspectives................................................................................195 Capabilities Model........................................................................................196 Productivity ............................................................................................................198 Technology...................................................................................................198 Virtual Team Management...........................................................................199 Motivation and Communication.............................................................................199 Individual Level............................................................................................200 Team Level...................................................................................................201 Organizational Level....................................................................................202 Engagement............................................................................................................205 Limitations of the Study...................................................................................................207 Strengths of the Study......................................................................................................208 Mixed Method Design............................................................................................209 Instrumentation.......................................................................................................209 Purposeful Sampling ..............................................................................................211 Data Analysis..........................................................................................................211 Inter-Virtual Communication Competencies...................................................................215 Inter-Virtual Skills Checklist..................................................................................216 Recommendations............................................................................................................212 REFERENCES...............................................................................................................218
  12. 12. xi TABLE OF TABLES Table Page 1. Participant Demographics..............................................................................................95 2. Participant Use of Communication Technology............................................................97 3. Question 1 Individual Responses...................................................................................98 4. Question 1 Responses with Joint Agreement...............................................................101 5. Question 1 High Frequency Responses .......................................................................107 6. Question 2 Individual Responses.................................................................................114 7. Question 2 Responses with Joint Agreement...............................................................117 8. Question 2 High Frequency Responses .......................................................................122 9. Question 3 Individual Responses.................................................................................125 10. Question 3 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................126 11. Question 3 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................127 12. Question 4 Individual Responses...............................................................................128 13. Question 4 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................130 14. Question 4 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................131 15. Question 5 Individual Responses...............................................................................132 16. Question 5 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................134 17. Question 5 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................137 18. Question 6 Individual Responses...............................................................................138 19. Question 6 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................139 20. Question 6 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................141 21. Question 7 Individual Responses...............................................................................143
  13. 13. xii TABLE OF TABLES (CONT.) Table Page 22. Question 7 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................144 23. Question 7 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................145 24. Question 8 Individual Responses...............................................................................149 25. Question 8 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................151 26. Question 8 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................152 27. Question 9 Individual Responses...............................................................................155 28. Question 9 Responses with Joint Agreement.............................................................157 29. Question 9 High Frequency Responses .....................................................................158 30. Question 10 Individual Responses.............................................................................161 31. Question 10 Responses with Joint Agreement...........................................................164 32. Question 10 High Frequency Responses ...................................................................164 33. Frequency Codes in Interview Questions ..................................................................168 34. Item 7 Responses .......................................................................................................171 35. Item 12 Rated Scale Responses .................................................................................173 36. Item 13 Rated Scale Responses .................................................................................175 37. Item 11 Rank Ordered List of Communication Attributes ........................................176 38. Item 15 Responses .....................................................................................................177 39. Global Virtual Team Success Factors........................................................................180 40. Three Components of the Capabilities and Skills Model Related to Findings .........197 41. REACH Model Components .....................................................................................213
  14. 14. xiii TABLE OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. Participant Years of Proposal Experience......................................................................96 2. Degrees of Virtuality....................................................................................................170 3. Item 8 Responses .........................................................................................................171 4. Item 14 Responses .......................................................................................................173 5. REACH Input-Process-Output Model.........................................................................215
  15. 15. xiv TABLE OF APPENDICES Appendix Page A: Invitation E-Mail.........................................................................................................234 B: Interview Questions and Protocol...............................................................................236 C: Survey Instrument.......................................................................................................240 D: Follow-On Questions..................................................................................................242 E: Informed Consent Form ..............................................................................................244 F: Global Virtual Team Leader Communication Study...................................................247
  16. 16. xv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my dissertation committee, editor and learning journey partner for the support, guidance and direction you have provided me. The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (AMPM) provided information, resources and access to global virtual teams in the proposal industry to support this research project. To my committee, thank you for your affirming words and willingness to listen to my ideas no matter what! You provided me with the focus, attention to detail and tools I have always needed. You empowered me with the structure, education and tools to take risks and be creative while meeting the requirements to complete this research project. Jeanne Dubi, thank you for embracing my project with professionalism and enthusiasm despite the editing challenges that came along. Larry S. Chengges’ poem expresses best how I feel about the significance of you all in my life. This dissertation is about communication and the importance of interactions. Each interaction and encounter has made me learn, grow and reflect along the way. Every day for the past year and a half, I have seen this poem affixed to a vanilla colored wall in a bright red frame. Although it was purchased at a yard sale for $5, the meaning of the words is priceless. There are many relationships and the experiences in my life have contributed to this moment. To all of you who have inspired me during this learning journey, I appreciate the moments you have shared with me through this process as an educator, mentor, coach and champion. Chengges’ poem is dedicated to you Dr. Strand, Dr. Edmundson, Dr. Lim, The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), Dr. Joshua Cotton and to Jeanne Dubi.
  17. 17. xvi Every Moment We Are Together Every moment that we are together, I am learning something, and that knowledge becomes a permanent part of me. Though my feelings will be different a year from now, Or ten years from now, Part of the difference is you. Because of you, I am A different person And the person I will grow to become With or without you Will have gotten there Partly because of you. If you were not in my life right now, I could Not be who I am right now. Nor would I be growing In exactly the same way. Much of what I grow toward and change within Myself, has to do with what I respond to in you. What I learn from you, what I understand about myself through you, And what I learn about my feelings In the dynamic of our relationship I do not worry about our ‘future together’ Since we have already touched each other And affected each others lives on so many levels that we can never be totally removed From each other’s thoughts. A part of me will always be you, And a part of you will always be me. That much is certain, No matter what else happens. Larry S. Chengges
  18. 18. xvii DEDICATION “I do not weep at the world … I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife …” Since I was 16 years of age, Zora Neale Hurston’s quote has typified my approach to life and taking on the challenges that are presented along the way. In each educational milestone, Zora’s words expressed how I felt about adversity, learning and pushing forward. In my youth, I focused on the outcomes of success. This dissertation process has shifted my focus to the process of learning which has helped teach me more than I ever thought possible. I am grateful for the lessons, experiences and moments that have enriched my life along the way. The completion of this dissertation is dedicated to a group of my greatest influences, supporters, and life partners who create meaning in my life. You have devoted yourself to improving my life and the world around you and in taking this learning journey with me. How can I ever say thank you and share how much I appreciate what your guidance, patience, courage and shared experiences mean to me? This dissertation is dedicated to a community of contributors who kept me focused, faithful and passionate about the pursuit of lifelong learning and growth, to God’s grace, and to my family whose enduring love, support and friendship provide meaning and affirm my life’s purpose. My Mother: Prisicilla Ann Cash, whose virtue, knowledge and wisdom were invaluable in shaping the woman I am, and for nurturing my dreams and future. My Husband: LTC (R) Ken Baskett, whose love and support and friendship have been consistent and immeasurable. My Sister: Tier Renee Cash, whose honesty and humor have provided me with the ability to take a fresh perspective, to prioritize and live each day richly.
  19. 19. xviii My Brother: Destorian Cash, whose skillful use of silence has taught me to listen intently and to be fully present in all of life’s moments. My nephew, Phillip, and niece, Myla, who taught me the value of being patient and persistent in all of my pursuits. Thank you for your understanding and patience throughout this journey. A broad circle of family and friends that connect from the east to the west stretching from Atlanta, to Kansas City and to California; I appreciate your sincere wishes for completion and blessings along the way. Dr. Phadra Williams Tuitt, my learning partner and classmate, thank you for walking alongside me from the first day of class to this moment. Your support, advice and sharing of yourself have made this experience remarkable. Maretta, Nichole, Dana, Poppy and the families we serve, thank you for making a positive difference in my life.
  20. 20. 1 CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM AND ITS COMPONENTS Introduction Organizations are adjusting to meet the realities of a resource challenged world. The borders that separate countries disappear as technology is used to link geographically dispersed virtual teams. Virtual teams add value to organizations. Teams of every description have been used to maximize the knowledge, skills and abilities that exist within an organization in order to accomplish a goal (Weems-Landingham, 2004). Virtual teams work across spatial distance, culture and language barriers to accomplish organizational goals (Neilson, 2009). Therefore, effective leader communication is one of the most critical elements of global virtual team effectiveness (Kuo, 2004). The ability to deliver, develop and sustain effective messages that engage team members is critical for success. Although various leadership characteristics emerge over time, effective leadership communication is one of the most important characteristics needed to promote and sustain the effectiveness of a global virtual team. Global virtual team members depend on clear and complete written, oral and interpersonal communications from their leaders (Grosse, 2002). A key aspect of effective leadership communication is the delivery of compelling messages that engages the team, addresses their underlying needs and influences decision making (Gratton & Erickson, 2007). It is important to understand the communication skills and tactics leaders need to develop and display in order to increase team effectiveness. Effective leader communications integrate speech, rhetoric and discursive practices to capture the attention of members and increase engagement through vocal, verbal and visual elements of the message (Shockley-Zalabak, 2006). Studies show that
  21. 21. 2 the use of silence, humor, and the creation of meaning contribute to effective group processes, decision making and consensus (Clifton, 2009). Effective team leaders interact frequently with members, select the best tools and encourage open communication that foster engagement (Boule, 2008). Team engagement is a key driver for satisfaction, motivation, commitment and trust, considered to impact productivity (Ross, 2006). After the team has been formed, it develops different communication needs over time. Leader communication is necessary to align and engage members to fully participate in future actions. Team leaders need to consistently communicate the same message to different members of the team. In addition, effective leader communication contributes to establishing the climate and norms for team behavior. However, in a fast paced and constantly changing environment, sometimes communication is lost. Interpersonal and relationship functions in computer mediated communications increasingly challenge global virtual leaders. Investigating the experiences of team members can reveal valuable insights about the best ways for global virtual teams to use leader communication in order to increase team effectiveness. Chapter One discusses the problem background and context; the purpose of the study; the research questions are stated and terms are defined related to the focus of the study. Then, the limitations and delimitations of the study are delineated, and lastly, the significance of the study is outlined. Problem Background Several issues and trends in business have emerged over time leading to the increased use of teams. According to Davidow and Malone (1992), organizations use
  22. 22. 3 teams as a way to remain competitive in business. The United States shifted from an agriculture society to an industrial society during the Industrial Revolution in the late nineteenth century. Consequently, this shift into the technology and information age contributed to the increased use of virtual teams. Improvements in productivity, total quality management and efficiency decreased the need for large groups of workers to accomplish the same tasks. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, as the service economy replaced manufacturing jobs, a need for increased productivity was critical for business success. The 1980’s was recognized as the most unproductive decade in American history by economists. During the 1980’s, the knowledge economy focused on the collection, synthesis and distribution of information. In the 1990’s a scarcity of resources and global competition led to the formation of multinational companies that deliver cost effective products and services to the market. In the 2000’s, globalization and technology are drivers for the need to restructure work and to utilize teams that contribute to the overall performance of the organization. The increased use of teams underscores the need for effective communication. Research on teams has been a topic of interest in multiple disciplines, including organizational psychology, communications, group support systems, information technology and leadership studies (McGrath, Arrow, & Berdahl, 2000; Martins, Gilson, & Maynard, 2004; Ilgen, Hollenbeck, Johnson, & Jundt, 2005). Davidow and Malone (1992) forecast that virtual organizations would be a way of life out of necessity by the year 2015. Over time, changes in politics, trade, international relationships and production provided opportunities for organizations to deliver products and services globally (Daft, 2008). Researchers have studied many factors in team and group support
  23. 23. 4 system literature: (a) computer mediated communication (Driskell, Radtke, & Salas, 2003; Grosse, 2002; Wiesenfeld, Raghuram, & Garud, 1999); (b) processes (Sarmiento & Stahl, 2008; Tarmizi, Payne, Noteboom et al., 2007); (c) performance (Lipnack & Stamps, 2000) and (d) effectiveness (Cordery & Soo, 2008; Gratton & Erickson, 2007); and (e) leadership (Pauleen, 2004). There are several reasons why global virtual teams are used by organizations (Brake, 2006). Globalization and advancements in technology are the leading factors for the use of global virtual teams (Vance & Paik, 2006). Globalization has contributed to a leaner, smarter and more efficient workforce. Organizations are competing for customers, profits, creativity and information to become sustainable, lead innovation and drive change (Dube & Robey, 2008). To adapt to environmental changes and advances in technology, organizations have recognized a need to gather, organize and apply information quickly using highly skilled people from around the world. Survival of organizations in a competitive landscape depends on the ability to: (a) adapt processes; (b) willingly accept diverse ideas and people; (c) manage and act intelligently on information; (d) utilize a broad range of technologies; and (e) master relationships (Daft). Global virtual teams offer the benefit of working across time zones. In addition, dispersed global virtual team members “. . . proximity to different customers, markets, practices perspectives and resources in their local contexts can enhance flexibility and innovation capability, thus increasing the ability of the team to balance local awareness with a broader, strategic perspective . . .” of the virtual team (Vance & Paik, 2006,
  24. 24. 5 p. 121). Global virtual teams enable organizations to increase their competitive advantage by reducing costs, fostering collaboration and solving complex issues despite geography or culture (Gowing, Kraft, & Quick, 1998). Prior research on global virtual teams suggests that multinational companies use global virtual teams extensively in many areas of business. For example, PGS, the engineering division of Singapore based BOC Group, uses global virtual teams to manage change efforts in 35 countries (Goodbody, 2005). Virtual teams are also used in sales and service industries (Hackman, 2002). Ehsan, Mirza, and Ahmad (2008) indicate that many multinational organizations use virtual teams to perform daily operations. Management practices that enhance effectiveness of global virtual teams are an essential component of organizational success in business and government (Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). Organizations use global virtual teams to: (a) implement business processes (Goodbody, 2005); (b) implement and make important decisions; and (c) integrate information (Maznevski & Chudoba). Parker and Clegg (2006) noted that as organizations globalize, new management practices can be adopted by countries that may be different from their traditional culture. National culture can influence how team member perceive and react to different situations through verbal and nonverbal communication (Vance & Paik, 2006). For example, Japanese collectivist cultures that value saving face and reducing conflict may adopt communication practices to become more transparent during crises (Deutsch 2006; Montoya-Weiss, Massey, & Song, 2001). Pruitt (2006) reinforces the importance of social context in the application of theory to solve conflict with people who differ culturally.
  25. 25. 6 Globalization has contributed to outsourcing, strategic alliances and project based work patterns (Vance & Paik, 2006). Global virtual teams provide flexible and low cost work units to implement actions worldwide as companies restructure to: (a) recruit new talent; and (b) integrate employees from mergers and acquisitions (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003; Parker & Clegg, 2006). Leaders need the skills and abilities to understand and manage empowered virtual team members effectively (Ehsan et al., 2008). Leaders use communication as a tool to influence team effectiveness, performance; and to boost motivation within global virtual teams (Neilsen, 2009). There is a need to better understand the extent to which perceptions of leadership communications impact performance in global virtual teams. Many global virtual teams fail to meet their full potential. Team leadership and communication are two essential factors for effectiveness in virtual teams (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). Several studies have addressed these issues. First, a large number of laboratory studies have been conducted using students in short term controlled environments (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006). Second, the behaviors, attitudes, skills and characteristics of an effective leader’s communication can influence effectiveness in global virtual teams. However, there is a lack of research on the relative importance of leader communication factors on effectiveness in global virtual teams. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this research project was to: (a) identify the extent to which leader communication factors are perceived to be important factors to team effectiveness; and (b) identify effective communication practices within global virtual teams. Using qualitative and quantitative mixed research methods, this exploratory study sought to
  26. 26. 7 understand how members of real global virtual teams experience leader communications and how leadership inspires a willingness from participative members to be productive, engaged and motivated. Research Questions The research questions that directed this study are: 1. From a team member’s perspective, what are the leadership skills attributes, and characteristics that contribute to effective leadership communication in virtual team environments? 2. To what extent do leader communication factors most influence members to be effective? 3. What tactics can leaders use to best influence effectiveness in the following : a. inspire the willingness to be productive b. boost morale c. engage members d. encourage participation and e. utilizes collaboration tools and technology Definition of Terms The following terms were used and defined to establish the context and to provide clarification. Asynchronous Communication: Asynchronous communication refers to “time constrained communication (e.g., text)” (Ehsan et al., p. 834). Axial Coding: The process of relating categories to subcategories linked in the data.
  27. 27. 8 Cataloguing concepts: The process of developing categories for the data to match descriptions across data. Computer-Mediated Technology (CMC): “The communication that occurs through computer-mediated technologies (i.e., E-mail, Audio/Video Conferencing) is called Computer-mediated Communication (CMC)” (Ehsan et al., p. 834). Conceptualization: Looking for consistencies in the data to explain the main concern of inquiry. Discovery: Exploration of the phenomena to generate data. Face to Face (FTF): Co-located two-way communication interactions where all participants in the communicative event share the same physical space, verbal and nonverbal information. Familiarization: Reading and reviewing data to formulate ideas and further questions which might need answering. Fit: Effortless application of the categories to the data. High Performing Teams: Dyer, Dyer, and Dyer (2007) defined high-performing teams as “those with members whose skills, attitudes, and competencies enable them to achieve goals . . . team members set goals, make decisions, communicate, manage conflict, and solve problems in a supportive trusting atmosphere in order to accomplish their objectives” (p. 5). Interdependence: The amount of collaboration needed to accomplish goals between team members. Linking: Making generalizations about the emergent patterns and concepts supported by the literature and the data.
  28. 28. 9 Meeting Facilitator: Guides the meeting processes, follows the agenda and ensures that the purposes are met. Meeting Processes: Dimensions of group dynamics within the context of the meeting that impact group satisfaction and goal attainment: relationship development, conflict management, participatory involvement, communication and emotional intelligence. Microanalysis: Line-by-line coding of the data. Modifiability: Adapting and changing theory as new ideas and concepts emerge. Objectivity: Awareness of the potential for bias and subjectivity in data analysis. Open Coding: Coding without any preconceived categories. Process facilitation: Process facilitation refers to the facilitator’s encouragement of the group to follow the agenda, encouraging open and unbiased communication, and participatory involvement. Productivity: Accomplishing a goal using efficient processes, and leveraging skills, knowledge, abilities and resources to reach a shared purpose. Range of Variability: The degree patterns and themes in the data differ on dimensions or attributes. Recoding: The process of dividing categories into subcategories in the interpretation and analysis process Re-evaluation: Review and modification of the data as alternative explanations and new information emerge. Reflection: Establishing relationships, if any between your data and previous research or academic studies–or even common sense knowledge.
  29. 29. 10 Relevance: The extent to which the theory allows core problems, processes and the main concerns in a study to emerge. Saturation: The process of data analysis and refinement of categories where no new patterns emerge during analysis. Selective Coding: Limiting coding to variables that are related to the main or core categories. Sensitivity: openness to what emerges in the data analysis free from bias. Synchronous Communication: Synchronous communication refers to communication without time constraints (Ehsan et al.). Team Change: Team change refers to the “teams’ ability to monitor its performance and make changes as needed” (Dyer et al., p. 6). Team Competencies: Team competencies refer to the “team’s ability to solve problems, communicate, make decisions, manage conflict and so on” (Dyer et al., p. 6). Team Composition: Team composition refers to the “team members’ skills, experience, and motivation as well as team size” (Dyer et al., p. 6). Team Context: Team context refers to “the need for teamwork; the type of team needed; and the culture structure, and systems that support teamwork” (Dyer et al., p. 6). Team Meeting: A meeting refers to a planned organizational event “. . . where the processes of initiating, planning, executing, following through, and controlling occur” (Makin, 2007, p. 43). Theoretical Sampling: Sampling to discover emergent themes and patterns in the data. Theorizing: Formulating ideas into logical explanations.
  30. 30. 11 Virtual Team: Virtual Teams are defined as geographically dispersed “teams operating across time, space and organizational boundaries” (Ehsan et al., 2008, p. 833). Virtual teams: (a) primarily use electronic technologies to communicate; (b) are composed of members with diverse, skills, cultures and languages; and (c) have greater demands on the role of the leader (Dyer et al.). Work: The extent to which emergent data is meaningful to offer an explanation of the phenomena under study. Limitations and Delimitations Limitations: According to Patton (2002), “all credible research strategies include techniques for helping the investigator become aware of and deal with selective perception, personal bias and theoretical predispositions” (p. 51).The focus of this grounded theory study was on perceptions of leader communications from team members’ perspectives. The role of the researcher was an important component of the data gathering and analysis processes of this study. Four limitations that had the potential to reduce the credibility and generalizability of this study follow: (a) sampling method and size; (b) inappropriate administration of the data gathering instrument; (c) accuracy of researcher judgments; and (d) researcher and participant bias. The sampling method and size were limiting factors in this study. Riley, Wood, Clark, Wilkie, and Szivas (2000) recognize that “in the majority of research cases it is not possible to study all the elements in a particular set . . . for reasons of practicality” (p. 75). A small purposeful sampling was used in this study. The results of the study may not be generalized to virtual teams beyond the sample represented in the study. According to Riley et al. (2000), “. . . to make claims for the wider population on the
  31. 31. 12 basis of study of elements selected using purposive sampling is dangerous, as it cannot be assumed that the characteristics of the elements are randomly distributed throughout the population” (p. 77). However, when the purpose of the study is to build theory, probability sampling is not necessary or the most appropriate method for the objectives of this study (Patton, 2002). Theoretical sampling was also used to determine participant selection criteria, data gathering and support of the constant comparison analysis method in grounded theory (Patton). The aim of this study was to contribute to the knowledge of best practices in global virtual teams using a grounded theory approach. The researcher’s limited interviewing skills had the potential to be a limitation of this study. To offset this limitation, data were collected using multiple methods, including surveys and interviews, as sources of information to strengthen the richness of data collected. The use of an interview guide “helps make interviewing a number of different people more systematic and comprehensive by delimiting in advance the issues to be explored” (Patton, 2002, p. 343). Interviews were conducted—using visual and audio capability—to delimit issues related to incorrectly observing the interviewees reactions to questions. In addition to researcher and participant bias, perceptions and experiences also had the potential to play a role as limiting factors in the study. For example, the interviewer may have been reluctant to answer honestly due to confidentiality or sensitivity of the nature of work. The data may be limited because of “. . . distorted responses due to personal bias, anger, anxiety, politics, and simple lack of awareness since interviews can be greatly affected by emotional state. . . recall error, reactivity of the interviewee to the interviewer and self-serving purposes ” (Patton, 2002, p. 306).
  32. 32. 13 Participants in the study were geographically dispersed in global virtual teams. The data was “limited in focusing only on external behaviors—the observer cannot see what is happening inside people” (Patton, 2002, p. 306). There were no direct observations of the interviewees. In addition, time and money were limitations in the conduction of the interviews and the analysis of data generated. Lack of resources may have contributed to errors in observer judgments, transcription or interpretation of responses. To offset these limitations the researcher used triangulation to determine the “strength of evidence in support of a finding” (p. 467). Grounded theory uses systematic procedures for data collection and analysis. Delimitations: This research occurred in the context of global virtual teams in the proposal development industry. Technology, communication and engagement are key challenges for leading successful teams. The purpose of this study was to understand leader communication factors from a team member’s perspective and to discover best practices that influence effectiveness. Grounded theory is the study of problems or main concerns and not units of analysis (Glaser, 1992). Although team leadership may be shared across different projects, participants’ experiences as a team member were analyzed. Participants in the study fulfilled leadership and management roles within the proposal development industry. Proposal professionals work in time-challenged, stressful and deadline driven environments. Connecting business strategy with communications to engage all members of the team and senior leaders is a priority for success. The aim of this study was not to make generalizations about the larger population or elaborate on theory alone. The goal
  33. 33. 14 of this grounded theory study was to discover best practices for leader communications that can be used to build efficient and effective global virtual teams. Significance of the Study This study provides team leaders and practitioners with information that could address the impact of leader communication in real global virtual teams. The results of the study may provide practical implications for training leaders and offer best practices for communication from a team member’s perspective in real teams. The significance of leader communication is supported by the literature (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Balsmeier, 2006; Brake, 2006; Shockley-Zalabak, 2006). Existing research (Daft, 2008; Driskell et al., 2003; McGrath et al., 2000) has studied team structure, content, performance and characteristics of effectiveness in virtual teams. Leadership and communication have been identified as essential characteristics of effective virtual teams. However, there is a gap in the literature on the effectiveness of leader communication practices on performance and effectiveness from a team member’s perspective. Several studies have identified a team leader’s skills, attributes, and practices as important contributors to team effectiveness. However, other researchers contend that leaders do not have an impact of effectiveness. Dyer et al. (2007) suggests that properly managing the context, composition, and communication are important. Daft (2008) recognizes that the maintenance of processes, structure, design and support of teams are more significant contributors to team effectiveness than the individual contributions of a leader. From this point of view, leadership is considered to be shared by the team or emerges through the project life cycle. Whether leadership is
  34. 34. 15 enacted at the individual level, shared by the team or simply emerges, effectiveness is influenced by leadership and communication. Further, the majority of existing studies conducted have been laboratory studies with student participants (Hertel, Geister, & Konradt, 2005). Fjermestad and Hiltz (2000) argue that results of virtual teams have been found to have more impact in studies of real teams. Kuo (2004) suggests that future research should consider the subordinate’s perspective in examining the impact of leadership on team effectiveness. Kuo found that the transformational leadership style had the greatest impact on effectiveness. According to Shockley-Zalabak (2006), “transformational leadership suggests that inspirational leadership goes beyond the transaction between leaders and followers and literally transforms or changes situations and circumstances through personal example and the rhetorical capability for establishing vision” (p. 235). Transformational leaders use rhetorical and persuasive skills to inspire followers by crafting clear targeted messages. Transformational leader communications are strategic and novel for complex and changing situations (Shockley-Zalabak). Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, and Fleishman (2000) describe the importance of leader communication: Leadership has been traditionally seen as a distinctly interpersonal phenomenon demonstrated in the interactions between leaders and subordinates . . . Effective leadership behavior fundamentally depends on the leader’s ability to solve the kinds of complex social problems that arise in organizations . . . Complexity, novelty, and information ambiguity define one set of attributes that set apart leader’s problem solving efforts. It is important to remember that leaders solve problems in “real-world” settings where time is short, and demands are many. (p. 11) The leader’s ability to monitor the context and to be responsive positively impacts team performance (Pauleen, 2004). To deliver leader communications, and to encourage
  35. 35. 16 participation and involvement, leaders need to effectively use technology and collaborative tools. Collaborative tools are essential to communication, problem solving and decision making in virtual teams. In a virtual workplace, collaborative tools provide a shared workspace for content management, visibility and accountability online, as well as for project management. In order for virtual teams to harness their potential, all members need to be productive contributors to the performance challenge. Leader communications need to generate participation and involvement (Kerber & Buono, 2004). According to Shockley-Zalabak (2006), “organizations of today and tomorrow are faced more than before with understanding the concept of multiple stakeholders and how their participation in all aspects of organizational life contributes to a variety of organizational outcomes” (p. 243). Collaborative tools help leaders monitor progress, assign tasks and set benchmarks for performance. They also help integrate multiple perspectives and support group processes for problem solving, for access to information and for flexibility (Lipnack & Stamps, 2000). Diversity in teams helps to increase productivity (Ilgen et al., 2005). It is possible that collaborative tools support interactional processes and may moderate the effects of a leader’s lack of skills in interpersonal communication, design and process abilities. More needs to be known on the extent to which a leader’s adoption and utilization of collaborative tools impacts member perceptions of productivity. Effective leadership, combined with team communication, helps mitigate the individual and group disadvantages of virtual teamwork (Connerly & Pederson, 2005; Daft, 2008; Yukl, 2006).
  36. 36. 17 Effective leaders are expected to select the best technology for the task and to provide guidance and direction on how to use computer mediated technologies. Utilization of multiple sources of media and an understanding of the technology fit are essential to sustaining messages, storing information and increasing the rate of work. Leaders need to influence members to adopt technology tools to improve efficiency, quality and manage risks, according to Cascio and Shurygailo (2003). Leaders also need to know how to handle technical problems during technology failure in order to avoid communication breakdowns or loss in asynchronous environments. Knowledge and fluency of audio-visual tools, multimedia formats and technology applications strengthen the team’s capacity for goal attainment. Social media and integrated technologies offer increased platforms for members to share personal experiences and informal interaction. Through effective technology use, leaders can better manage tasks and relationships. Kerber and Buono (2004) found that continuous flows of communication and regular meetings contributed to team effectiveness. Virtual teams are electronically dependent on technology to communicate; often, the contexts of these interactions are virtual meetings. Sivunen (2008) advises that virtual leaders may need a different set of discursive skills than those needed in traditional teams. Leadership is enacted through the use of discursive practices because “. . . deciding who can speak and what can be said determines what is regarded as normal behavior” (p. 51). Clifton (2009) studied decision making and influence in teams through content analysis Time and money are two resources that require careful management. Team performance and effectiveness are influenced by the use of technology. Perceptions are important to examine because perceptions shape and form attitudes and behavior that influence performance (DeVito,
  37. 37. 18 2005). Interpersonal perception is defined as the process through which we interpret and evaluate people and their behavior (DeVito). Communication is consistently identified as a significant contributor to team effectiveness and performance. Team leaders may fulfill management roles or participate in a variety of work practices or have no training in how to fulfill the role (Martins et al., 2004; Pauleen, 2004). Although the teams may be effectively managed through processes, structure and design, leadership behaviors may not be exhibited and communication may not influence productive action. Leadership occurs through communication behaviors in interactions with others. Leaders communicate about change, translate intentions into reality, propose new strategies, and help sustain action to support decisions. Although, the leader and subordinate relationship has been studied, the extent to which a leader’s individual communication attributes, skills and behaviors influence perceptions of effectiveness requires more attention. Cragg and Spurgeon (2007) acknowledged that “there is a constant tension between leadership as a state of being emphasizing a range of personal characteristics, as against the understanding of tasks and behaviors that might constitute leadership” p. 112). Cragg and Spurgeon argue that situational factors and competencies influence leader effectiveness. Virtual teams’ leaders manage complexity under time challenged conditions. LaFasto and Larson (1989) and Kayworth and Leidner (2001) found that team leaders and members rate team outcomes differently. Prior research also indicates that a subordinate’s perception of the supervisor’s ability to listen, be responsive, sensitive and understanding to the subordinate’s message, positively influences satisfaction with the tasks and the perceptions of leaders (Kuo, 2004). In addition, results
  38. 38. 19 from a study on frontline managers revealed that managers lacked the skills needed to “build relationships with people or influence people and decisions” (Shaw, 2005, p. 4). It was the aim of this study to understand characteristics of effective communication from team members’ perspectives. Effective leader communications influence people to make a valuable contribution to the team’s efforts (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). Leaders face several challenges communicating in a virtual environment because of cultural, time and geographic barriers. Strategic conversations help leaders harness team potential and develop an open communication climate (Shockley-Zalabak, 2006). Team diversity has also been found to be an important factor that leaders need in order to manage teams. Diversity has been found to increase team conflict and decrease team cohesion. However, diversity of members increases innovation and creativity. Grosse (2002) recognizes that “understanding how to communicate effectively on virtual intercultural teams will help business students and managers achieve higher performance and avoid costly delays in projects and decision making” (p. 37). Summary Chapter One discussed the following information: (a) introduction and context of the study; (b) problem background; (c) research questions; (d) definitions; (e) limitations and delimitations; and (e) significance of the research. Chapter Two provides a review of the literature with a focus on characteristics of effective leadership, success factors and challenges that global virtual team leaders face.
  39. 39. 20 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE This literature review presents research on global virtual team member perceptions of leader practices. First, historical perspectives on teams are discussed, with an emphasis on global virtual teams. Next, definitions of effective virtual teams are reviewed, along with dimensions of virtuality. Then, virtual team success factors are discussed with a focus on leader practices. From there, challenges faced by the team and the leader are delineated. Further, this review describes best practices for team effectiveness and the need for team leadership. This review of the literature includes peer reviewed laboratory studies, team studies, case studies, leadership studies and dissertations. There are five main topic areas in this study: (a) definitions of virtual teams; (b) historical perspectives; (c) success factors of virtual teams; (d) challenges faced on a virtual team; and (e) areas for future research. The objective of this review is to provide an integrated overview of the current literature regarding virtual teams. Defining Virtual Teams Lipnack and Stamps (2000) state that “a virtual team is a group of people who work interdependently with a shared purpose across space time and organization boundaries using technology” (p. 18). According to Maznevski and Chudoba (2000), “global virtual teams are internationally distributed people with an organizational mandate to make or implement decisions with international components or implications” (p. 473). In defining characteristics of global virtual teams, national diversity is an important characteristic. According to Cordery and Soo (2008), “. . . virtual teams may have members with many nationalities from around the world. Equally, a virtual team
  40. 40. 21 may contain a single nationality, although its members are distributed at different sides of a continent communicating via e-mail and the intranet/Internet” (p. 488). Hertel et al., (2005) add that virtuality is a characteristic mainly based on information communication technologies and tools. Spatial distance refers to the degree that teams operate across different time zones (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006). The degree of virtuality can also be measured by the degree of synchronization and the presence of nonverbal and paraverbal cues (Jong, Schalk, & Curseu, 2008). Gibbs and Gibson make the distinction that virtuality describes the degree to which factors that may disrupt team performance are present. Gibson and Gibbs also suggest that there are four characteristics of virtual teams that are significant in defining global virtual teams: 1. Geographic dispersion refers to the degree team members are in different locations. 2. Electronic dependence is the degree of computer mediated communication used compared with face to face communication. 3. Dynamic structure is defined as frequent changes between team members, their roles and relationships. 4. National diversity is defined as diversity of members from different cultural backgrounds, functions within the team and functions in the broader organization. Characteristics of Effective Leadership Leadership has been described using many definitions, models and frameworks. The leading theories studied in the 20th century are trait theory, situational leadership, transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Cragg and Spurgeon (2007)
  41. 41. 22 argue that although differences exist in the development of leadership models, the competencies and skills to enact influence are the key determinants of effective leadership. Leadership frameworks and models can be used to describe the leadership qualities and characteristics needed appropriate to the context. Leadership has been studied with an emphasis on personality, traits, style, group processes, skills, behavior and contingency theories (Kayworth & Leidner, 2001). Ruggieri’s (2009) laboratory study of virtual teams found that transformational leaders were perceived to be better than transactional leaders. Findings in the study emphasize the need for leaders to manage team member perceptions by focusing on the relationships and interactions rather than the task. Northouse (2007) contends that the leadership process involves both leaders and followers. Interactions between leaders and subordinates to solve difficult problems were the focus of Mumford et al.’s (2000) study. The researchers contend that “leadership can be framed, not in terms of specific behaviors, but instead in terms of the capabilities, knowledge and skills that make effective leadership possible” (p. 12). Cragg and Spurgeon (2007) support the viewpoint that competencies and skills are required for effective leadership. Definitions of leadership vary on whether individuals or teams influence outcomes for effectiveness or performance. Leadership can be appointed, shared or emerge within organizations (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003). However, Northouse (2007) states that “leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (p. 3). Daft (2008) distinguishes that “leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes” (p. 4). Further, Connerly and Pederson
  42. 42. 23 (2005) emphasize that “leadership should be appropriate to the people, time, place and cultural context” (p. 152). Interactions between the leader and the follower are important characteristics used to define leadership. Leadership in a diverse and rapidly changing environment requires the skills, influence, awareness and ability to harness the potential of groups to accomplish goals within organizations (Hoek & Mitchell, 2006; Mumford et al., 2000). Organizational culture, shared values and adaptation to change influences leadership effectiveness and organizational performance (Heifetz, 1994). Cragg and Spurgeon (2004) argue that “leadership roles need to be created with reference to a model of effective leadership that the organization endorses and upholds according to its culture and objectives” (p. 112). Global virtual teams are dynamic and changing environments. This study recognizes that perceptions of effective leadership may be influenced by organizational culture as the situation or context changes. Similarly, effective leadership is characterized by cultural competence. Goldsmith, Greenberg, Robertson, and Hu-Chan (2003) describe fifteen essential characteristics of global leaders based on research from The Global Leader of the Future Inventory and interview questions. The inventory is a 360 degree feedback assessment of leaders. The inventory was piloted on 200 leaders from 120 global organizations. The top five characteristics of global leaders are: “(1) thinking globally, (2) appreciating diversity, (3) developing technological savvy, (4) building partnerships and alliances and (5) sharing leadership” (p. 2). The aim of this study is to understand more about perceptions of leader behaviors and actions in effective global teams. Therefore,
  43. 43. 24 characteristics that describe global leadership may influence team member perceptions of leader best practices. Historical Perspectives of Virtual Teams There is evidence in the literature on factors that influence success; however the literature on best practices is less abundant than research on team effectiveness, performance and success factors in global virtual teams (Chudoba, Wynn, & Watson- Manheim, 2005). The prevalence of the use of teams by organizations reached a peak in 1987 (Dyer, 2007). Research has led to the development of models of effectiveness based on several studies that can be applied to global virtual teams (Katzenbach, 1998). Four topics are discussed in this section. First, environmental issues and trends in business that lead to the need for global virtual teams are described. Second, theoretical frameworks are presented. Third, models of team effectiveness are delineated. Lastly, studies in the literature most relevant to best practices in global virtual teams are reviewed. Theoretical models of effective teams. The theoretical basis of this literature review is the application of research models to groups, traditional and virtual teams based on general input-output-process (I-P-O) frameworks. Researchers in team literature provide frameworks to explain the relationships between variable and outcomes. According to Hertel et al. (2005), I-P-O models have been used to examine the effects of variables on teams, relationships between factors, and moderators that impact performance. Inputs are variables brought to the team that may influence interactions or outcomes (Shockley-Zalabak, 2006). Processes refer to how tasks are completed (Shockley-Zalabak). Outcomes refer to the results measured. I-P-O frameworks have been applied in previous studies that have
  44. 44. 25 focused on planning, action and interpersonal processes in groups (McGrath et al., 2000) and virtual teams (Driskell et al., 2003). Satisfaction, performance and effectiveness outcomes have dominated studies in the literature relating to affective, cognitive and behavioral factors within virtual teams. For example, Montoya-Weiss et al. (2001) studied 35 global virtual teams from the United States and Japan. Results of the study found that when processes are in place to coordinate the timing of information flows, conflict behaviors were reduced in global virtual teams. A second finding was that compromise behaviors have a negative effect on performance; however temporal coordination moderates the negative effects. Martins et al. (2004) reviewed literature on virtual teams using an inputs- processes and output model. The researchers found that satisfaction, performance and effectiveness outcomes have dominated studies in the literature on virtual teams. Additionally, affective, cognitive and behavioral characteristics have been widely studied. The strength of the review is that the majority of studies reviewed were based on real organizations and not laboratory studies. A growing body of research recognizes that teams with a high degree of virtuality experience the effects of mediating factors through the team lifecycle (Hertel et al., 2005). IMOI theoretical frameworks challenge the traditional I-P-O models commonly used in group support systems, group, team and virtual team research. Hertel, Geister and Konradt argued that “. . . developmental aspects have to be considered acknowledging that different management tasks are crucial at different phases of a team implementation process . . . moreover, a lifecycle model takes into account that disadvantages due to new communication technologies might differ depending on the phases of teamwork” (p. 72).
  45. 45. 26 Observations of team member performance are difficult in virtual contexts. Feedback, monitoring and coaching processes were identified as challenges in virtual teams (Lipnack & Stamps, 2000). More recently, researchers have offered alternate theoretical models to the general I-P-O framework. The consistent finding in these alternate models is the recognition of groups as complex and constantly changing. McGrath et al. (2000) documented the shift from inputs and outputs to a systems view of groups that considers the importance of temporal factors and context. In a review of the literature, McGrath et al. identified the limitations of I-P-O frameworks for understanding how groups change over time in real organizations. The researchers argue that I-P-O frameworks are more commonly applied in laboratory studies which fail to accurately reflect the complexity of real groups. Ilgen et al. (2005) examined research on teams, work groups and groups. The majority of the studies took place in real organizations. Studies were structured around theoretical models that focus on team complexity as teams evolved. Ilgen et al. found that prior research also focused on processes that lead to performance. The researchers asserted that there is agreement in the literature that “. . . teams are complex, dynamic systems, existing in larger systemic contexts of people, tasks, technologies and settings” (p. 519). Ilgen et al. presented evidence that empirical research has shifted from understanding why teams are effective to how the interactions over time and context influence actions and behaviors. Past studies have focused on the mediating effects of time, affective, behavioral and cognitive factors between inputs that lead to outcomes (McGrath et al., 2000).
  46. 46. 27 LaFasto and Larson’s (1989) three-year study focused on co-located teams in order to understand effective teams and teamwork. Using grounded theory and theoretical sampling, 32 high performing teams were interviewed and surveyed. The researchers wanted to answer the following questions “what are the characteristics, features, or attributes of effectively functioning teams?” (p. 19). Leaders and managers of the teams were interviewed from multiple industries. Eight characteristics of effective teams were identified and later used to assess team effectiveness. A feedback instrument was developed by the researchers to “assess the extent to which an intact team, as described by its leader and members possess or do not possess the characteristics” (p. 130). The researchers asked the question “what aspects of teams and teamwork that leaders and members are most likely to see differently?” (p. 137). The most significant finding was that there were consistent differences between the perceptions of leaders and members about team: (a) collaboration; (b) perceived team member commitment; and (c) communication. The researchers found that team leaders rated the team higher than members. Leaders were found to overestimate team effectiveness and performance. Dyer (1994) agrees that one factor that contributes to team failure is the lack of awareness of problems and the severity of issues that exist in teams. Latapie and Tran’s (2007) study on conflict and subculture formation supports LaFasto and Larson’s findings that a strong “teamwork culture” in more challenging, culturally diverse virtual teams is important (p. 189). A similar study on traditional healthcare teams used three data collection methods to examine characteristics of effectiveness. Mickan and Rodger (2005) used a purposeful sampling method. Participants in phase one of the study included 39 managers who had
  47. 47. 28 extensive teaming experience and knowledge within healthcare. Data were collected in structured interviews using repertory grids (comparison instrument used between all participants) and a questionnaire to clarify responses. The data from interviews were interpreted and the importance of 30 team effectiveness concepts was ranked. The participants also allocated each of the 30 concepts to four themes that emerged around the perceptions of teamwork: (a) environment; (b) structure; (c) processes; and (d) team member contribution. In the second stage, 202 healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds ranked the importance of 27 characteristics of team effectiveness. The inventory was distributed through e-mail and internal communication tools to departmental managers. Through descriptive analysis, six characteristic were consistently ranked as significant contributions to team effectiveness: “mutual respect, goals, leadership, communication, cohesion and purpose” (p. 364). The researchers used findings to develop a model for healthcare teams. Results of the study are strengthened by the use of three data collection methods (i.e., repertory grid interviews, clarification questionnaires and inventory) and evidence supported by existing theoretical models in team literature. Since LaFasto and Larson’s (1989) early study, team research has explored several factors that may impact leaders and members in virtual teams. Researchers have addressed differences between leaders and members in studies focused on power (Panteli & Tucker, 2009) and conflict (Arizeta, Ayestaran, & Swailes, 2005; Kankanhalli, Tan, & Kwok-Kee, 2006; Paul, Samarah, Seetharaman, & Mykytyn, 2004). Several studies on leadership effectiveness in virtual teams examined globally distributed teams (Cascio &
  48. 48. 29 Shurygailo, 2003; Day, Gronn, & Salas, 2004; Kayworth & Leidner, 2001). An extensive body of empirical research has explored virtual team management (Hertel et al., 2005). Katzenbach and Smith (2003) distinguish high performance teams from real teams in a model of team effectiveness. According to Katzenbach and Smith, “high performing teams typically reflect strong extensions of the basic characteristics of teams: deeper sense of purpose, more ambitious performance goals, more complete approaches, fuller mutual accountability, interchangeable as well as complimentary skills” (p. 79). There are six critical elements that characterize a high performing team: 1. First, high performing teams have a strong personal commitment to one another’s growth and personal success (Katzenbach & Smith; Dyer et al., 2007). 2. Second, high performing teams have greater flexibility that enables personal growth and interchangeable skill development (Katzenbach & Smith). 3. Third, high performing teams have a greater sense of humor and have more fun that is “real and only sustainable if it feeds off the team’s purpose and performance aspirations” (Katzenbach & Smith, p. 78). 4. Fourth, high performance teams have high goal interdependence and integrate team responsibilities with job responsibilities (Makin, 2007). 5. Fifth, high performance teams have open communication systems and shared leadership that encourage unfiltered debate. Open communication allows team members to properly manage conflict build vulnerability based trust, and share experiences (Dyer et al.; Lencioni, 2002; Makin; Katzenbach & Smith).
  49. 49. 30 6. Last, high performing teams have the interpersonal and technical skills to: a) become self sufficient; b) influence the performance ethic in the larger organization; and c) adapt to change (Hackman, 2002; Katzenbach & Smith; Dyer et al.). There are two prominent perspectives in the literature on team leadership: (a) leadership brought to the team by an individual; and (b) leadership that emerges from the team (Day, Gronn, & Salas, 2004). In the first perspective, research suggests that a team leader’s ability to transfer knowledge, stimulate creativity and facilitate team learning are key determinants of effectiveness in virtual and global teams (Daft, 2008; Lipnack & Stamps, 2000). However, most leaders have little experience or training for working in global virtual teams. Hackman (2002) challenges the concept that a leader’s actions have an effect on the performance of the team. Instead, Hackman’s view is that “. . . the main responsibility of leaders as creating and maintaining the five conditions that increase the chances that a team will, over time, become increasingly effective in carrying out its work. The five conditions that need to be created and maintained are: “(1) is a real team rather than a team in name only; (2) has a compelling direction for its work, (3) has an enabling structure that facilitates rather than impedes teamwork, (4) operates within a supportive organizational context, and (5) has available ample expert coaching in teamwork” (p. 31). Dyer et al.’s (2007) Four C Model (context, composition, competencies and change management) of teams effectiveness supports Hackman’s belief that the design and support provided to teams are as important as the attributes and behaviors of individual leaders. These perspectives are important because the focus of the research is on team
  50. 50. 31 leader practices that impact performance over time rather than behavioral style in real global virtual teams. Leading virtual teams. Leadership and team building are essential to the development of high performance teams. Studies of traditional teams suggest that there is a positive relationship between team leadership and effectiveness (Hackman, 2002). Other studies found that leadership in teams is determined at the team level rather than the individual level (Katzenbach & Smith, 2003). Studies have also found that leadership in constantly changing environments depends on the ability to solve complex social problems (Fairbairn, 2005; Mumford et al., 2000). Many studies on leadership in teams and groups emphasize the importance of the leader’s role (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003; Day et al., 2004; Kayworth & Leidner, 2001; Yukl, 2006). Katz (1955) challenged the notion that more emphasis should be placed on the development of technical, human, and conceptual skills to lead effectively. More recent literature confirms that global leaders need to have technical, human, conceptual and political skills (Goldsmith et al., 2003; Hakonen & Lipponen, 2008). Miranda and Bostrom’s (1999) study examined the leader’s meeting facilitation role in the successful completion of a task in small group. The leader’s facilitation role as a communicator is most important to inspire the willingness of members to fully engage in virtual meetings to reach meeting outcomes. Leadership is enacted in the context of meetings through discursive practices that influence the willingness of members to commit to future action and adopt organizational culture and rules (Shockley-Zalabak, 2006). Nilesen (2009) contends that “ leadership—even if not performed at executive level—is a social process
  51. 51. 32 of interaction with reality being defined in a way, which makes sense to the participants, and is also a system of dependency, in which individuals entrust the power to interpret and to define reality to others” (p. 46). Conversely, Dyer et al. (2007) contend that a more structured approach to high performance team development is present. Dyer et al. assert that high performance teams are developed by properly managing the team context, composition, competencies and change management skills of the team. Further, through regular evaluation processes and continuous monitoring practices, high performance teams adapt to meet performance challenges (Dyer et al.). Crisis and change are acknowledged as two key drivers that create the urgency for high performing teams to develop (Kotter, 2002). Moreover, the role of the leader is educative in the initial stages of development. The leader educates the team about the common goals, roles and responsibilities needed, opens communication, and gives more responsibility to team members (Dyer et al.). The team leader shifts from being an educator to that of being a coach. In the coaching role, leaders engage team members to share their perspectives about role responsibility and processes to accomplish objectives. Dyer et al. state that the team leader needs to be seen as a “knowledge helper” (p. 63). As a facilitator, the team leader’s role is to intervene in conflict, direct attention to new issues, and to ask questions to redirect team focus (Dyer et al.). As the team leaders’ roles shift from educator, coach and facilitator, the role of visionary remains constant. The team leader needs to continuously envision the competencies and composition of the team using effective inquiry methods and dialogue. Effective leadership is critical to the success and performance of virtual teams (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003). Several researchers support the notion that leadership
  52. 52. 33 emerges within the team at different stages of the team’s life cycle (McGrath et al., 2000). Later studies point out that team members may work together on a variety of projects in different roles (Caiscio & Shurygailo). Accordingly, researchers have investigated leadership as a team construct rather than an individual construct (Ilgen et al., 2005). High performance teams have shared leadership where the team leader’s role shifts to meet the performance challenge of the team (Katzenbach & Smith, 2003; Dyer et al., 2007). Team members initiate action wherever the team needs it. Antoni’s (2005) findings recognize the positive effects of group processes on satisfaction and performance in teams when task interdependence is high. Situational factors have been viewed to create opportunities for leadership throughout the team (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006). Researchers contend that leaders need to: (a) act appropriately to the situation; (b) select the best technology for the task at hand; and (c) communicate effectively to all members, according contingency based leadership theory (Northouse, 2007). Kayworth and Leidner (2001) support a contrasting view of the leader’s role in global virtual teams based on the behavior complexity theory. These researchers argue that effective leaders are able to perform multiple leadership roles in complex and changing environments related to “. . . task achievement, individual team member needs and team cohesion” (p. 12). For these reasons, the behavior complexity theory perspective is an appropriate leadership framework to apply to global virtual teams (Kayworth & Leidner). Empirical studies in team literature have focused on: (a) Transformational Leadership; (b) Transactional Leadership; (c) Contingency Theory; (d) Social Context Theory; and (e) Leader-Member-Exchange Theory (Martins et al., 2004; Northouse; Yukl, 2006; Pauleen, 2004).
  53. 53. 34 Hans’ (2006) study investigated the impact of team diversity and perceptions of leader support and citizenship behavior in virtual teams. The study is important because the factors that impact team member relationships which may contribute to team effectiveness were examined. Hans explained the concept of tenure diversity as group member identification based on similar demographics and in-group similarities. The concept of tenure diversity has implications for the impact of subgroup formation on virtual teams. Interestingly, the author discussed how the Leadership Member Exchange Theory (LMX) may be applied in virtual teams in describing in groups and out groups. According to Hans, group members who are less alike are more likely to be a part of the out-group and experience less leader support. Further, the use of technology may decrease the importance of demographic similarity as a determinant for negative effects on virtual teams. The author used a variety of data collection measures to analyze organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and perceived leader support. A subset of data was analyzed from a study that collected data by using phone interviews and questionnaires of 38 virtual teams. Tenure diversity was calculated using a mathematical formula to determine differences between group members. OCB and leader support were measured using adaptations of scales used in previous research. Hans found that the perception of leader support overcomes the negative impacts of dissimilarities among group members. Overall, the findings reveal that diversity among team members can have a negative impact on OCB in virtual teams. In addition to team leadership, there is evidence that there are other influence factors that contribute to team effectiveness. Kuo’s (2004) study examined the impact of transactional, transformational and paternalistic leadership styles, team social capital and
  54. 54. 35 team diversity on effectiveness. Kuo found that transformational leadership has a positive effect on team effectiveness. Social capital was found to have a positive impact on effectiveness. In particular, the frequency and degree of informal communication, shared organizational values and increased levels of trust positively impact team effectiveness. Team diversity of roles and functions had a positive impact on effectiveness, while demographic diversity characteristics (age, education, education) had negative impacts. Kuo’s study did not explore cultural diversity in the study. Kuo strongly suggests that future research include “. . . the subordinate’s perspective to study how the characteristics of subordinate cause impact on behavior of leader and team effectiveness” (p. 275). The focus of this research is on team member perceptions of leader practices in global virtual teams. Kuo’s findings and directions for future research support the need for more knowledge about leadership, diversity and member perspectives on effective practices in global virtual teams. Heifetz (1994) argues that “effectiveness means reaching viable decisions that implement the goals of the organization” (p. 22). Conversely, perceptions of leader effectiveness may also be subjective (e.g., value judgments) and largely depend on the values, experiences and bias of the evaluator (Deutsch, 2006; Heifetz; Northouse, 2007). Leadership scholars (Ikenberry, 2008; Kouzes & Posner; 2007; McCoy, 2007; Northouse) support the contention that gender, culture and ethics are factors that could influence effectiveness in organizations. Research indicates that gender stereotypes, bias and differences in leadership style and effectiveness exist between men and women (Northouse, 2007). The role of gender in leadership studies has indicated that: (a) women are perceived to be more effective in
  55. 55. 36 feminine leadership roles; (b) women use a more participatory involvement; and (c) women tend to use transformational leadership styles more than men according to Northouse. Little is known about the role of gender in leadership style in global virtual teams. Team composition is based on the skills and competencies needed to accomplish goals. There is interest in research in international business and organizational management literature. Gowing et al. (1998) raised several questions regarding management that are relevant to this study and warrant further exploration when they ask “What do organizations and managers need to know about managing across boundaries and managing non employees? What kind of leadership is required for employees and contractors alike in the changed organization?” (p. 19). Organizations have changed the composition of the workforce from low skilled workers to include more problem solvers and thinkers who use “knowledge, judgment, experience and instinct” to add value to organizations (Liu, Magjuka, & Lee, 2008, p. 21). These trends in globalization and changes in the workforce demonstrate a need to understand how to increase productivity and enhance performance of workers. Hertel et al. (2005) examined human resource management tasks and issues in teams with a high degree of virtuality. Over 100 studies were summarized and practical recommendations for managing virtual teams were drawn from the research. According to the researchers, there is agreement that all teams have characteristics of virtuality. The degree of virtuality was used to describe characteristics of the teams studied. Strengths of the study included documented practical recommendations for virtual team leaders and members supported by existing research.
  56. 56. 37 A leader’s communication competence in the use of computer mediated technologies is an essential factor for global virtual teams (Sivunen, 2008). Sivunen studied four globally distributed teams in information technology, marketing and human resource functions. The researcher found that team members expected leaders to give guidance on the use of computer mediated communication practices. In addition, members expected leaders to communicate goals clearly, be supportive and encourage participation. The researcher suggests that leaders need information seeking, negotiating and networking skills to maximize team potential. The data were triangulated by using interviews about team practices and observations of member interactions and analyzed using qualitative methods. Workman (2007) found that teams with highly structured processes and open communication had higher levels of performance than teams focused on adhering to schedule and quality. Workman asserts that team openness and structured processes, rather than the leader alone contributed to higher levels of performance. The leader’s ability to analyze and sense factors that impact the team and respond to the needs of the task, team members, and context is essential to effective team performance (Pauleen, 2004). Additionally, effective global virtual teams have the support of top level leaders to help in understanding and fulfilling roles to the entire organization (Goodbody, 2005; Hackman, 2002). Leadership communication should be guided from top level leaders during change (Kotter, 2002). The dynamic environment of global virtual teams warrants the support of leaders and competencies in communication from team leaders to ensure alignment through change and cultural differences (Barczak, McDonough, & Anthanassiou, 2006).

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