Build A Qualitative Proposal
BTM 7303, Assignment 10
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Susan Petroshius
11 December 2017
Introduction to Study
This paper is a brief examination of e-leadership of virtual teams. E-leadership is an academic field of study that has emerged since the turn of the millennium (Savolainen, 2014) and one which involves organizational leadership of highly technological structures stretched over different cultures and geographic regions (Avolio, 2014). These highly technological and widely dispersed organizational structures have led to the advent and implementation of virtual teams (Lilian, 2014). With this growing organizational structure of dispersed virtual team members comes new, unique, and difficult leadership challenges which must be addressed by the e-leader (Hoch & Kozlowski, 2016).
Virtual Teams & E-Leadership
Liao (2017) defined virtual teams as “a collection of individuals who work on tasks that share varying degrees of interdependence and mutual accountability to accomplish a common goal”. While virtual teams are dynamic and take many forms, research has highlighted several commons factors of these teams that impact how one leads them. For example, Cheshin et al. (2013) found that most teams are partially, rather than exclusively, virtual. In studying the nature of dispersion amongst virtual teams, Krumm et al. (2013) identified cultural dispersion as the most common dimension of virtual teams. The organizational e-leader, then, is likely to lead a culturally diverse, partially virtual team.
In their study of virtual teams, Gilson et al. (2015) identified leadership as one of the most pressing themes in research on virtual teams and considered e-leadership of virtual teams an opportunity in future research. Hill & Bartol (2016) found that effective e-leadership of virtual teams is leadership which empowers team members by providing collaboration between e-leader and team member as well as collaboration between fellow team members. Hill & Bartol (2016) also found that virtual collaboration contributes to team performance, and that team performance is enhanced further when e-leaders interact with individual team members. Writing about collaboration between e-leader and virtual team members, Liao (2017) notes that “current literature is silent about how the team leader develops and maintains relationships with individual members on a virtual team”.
The research problem being addressed in this study is this: how does the e-leader effectively establish and develop relationships with individual members on a virtual team which positively contribute to overall team cohesion and performance? This problem will examine three types of personal interaction – face-to-face meetings, individual coaching, and individual professional training – and their impact on team cohesion and performance. Recent literature has not only highlighted this as a research worthy problem but has also provided a solid research foundation upon which this problem can be developed.
The purpose of this study is multi-faceted. Firstly, one purpose is to provide a theoretical contribution to the academic field of organizational leadership by addressing and filling gaps in present literature on the subject. Secondly, another purpose is to provide organizational e-leaders with quantitative data and analysis about leading virtual teams which aims to increase their effectiveness and impact. Thirdly, a further purpose is to better understand virtual team dynamics to increase team cohesion and performance between team members.
In addressing this research problem, three research questions will be asked and analyzed throughout this study. Each research question addresses one type of personal interaction between e-leader and virtual team member and its effect on team cohesion and productivity.
1. What effect do face-to-face meetings between e-leader and individual virtual team members have on team cohesion and performance?
2. How do individual coaching sessions between e-leader and individual virtual team members impact team cohesion and performance?
3. How does individual professional training by the e-leader contribute to team cohesion and performance?
Methodology & Design
Researchers in this field have consistently employed quantitative methodology in their studies. Three related studies, for example, all employed surveying virtual team members regarding leadership and collaboration (Hill & Bartol, 2016; Hoch & Kozlowski, 2016 ; Krumm et al., 2013). Each researcher surveyed virtual team members within the business sector, and sample populations varied from 171, 250, and 565 participants.
Data collection was accomplished in these studies by surveying virtual team members – two researchers used online surveys (Hill & Bartol, 2016; Krumm et al., 2013) while the third distributed paper surveys and questionnaires to team members (Krumm et al., 2013).
Krumm et al. (2013) statistically analyzed data using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of their 60-item survey to determine key elements of team performance. Hoch & Kozlowski (2016) used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of their five categories of competencies for virtual team e-leadership. Hill & Bartol (2016) also used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of their five categories of competencies for virtual team e-leadership. CFA was applied to responses on a 1-7 scale to questions broken down into the five categories of core leadership competencies.
Research Methodology & Design
This study will likewise employ a quantitative methodology by surveying 3 teams of 25 virtual team members from a large national not-for-profit organization. Two online surveys will be distributed and collected, the first at the outset of the study and the second one month into the study. Each survey question is designed to measure the effectiveness of various personal interactions between e-leaders and virtual team members in measurable performance standards and team member ratings of cohesion. Each survey will contain 10 questions relating to team cohesion and 10 questions relating to team productivity.
Each response from these three virtual teams (coded A, B, & C) will be recorded from the initial survey, with each section being coded as either c for cohesion or p for productivity. Accordingly, initial surveys will be coded as 1-Ac, 1-Ap, 1-Bc, 1-Bp, 1-Cc, and 1-Cp. This coding system denotes which survey (1), which team (A, B, or C), and which section (cohesion or productivity) is being addressed. This same coding system will be used for the second survey, with a (2) replacing the (1).
The three types of personal interaction (face-to-face meetings, individual coaching, and individual professional training) will be employed by the organizational leader with each different team. Thus, team A will receive one month of individual face-to-face meetings with the e-leader, team B will receive one month of individual coaching with the e-leader, and team C will receive one month of individual professional training with the e-leader. The responses from the first and second survey (prior to any individual interaction and after one month of consistent individual interaction) will be compared based on virtual team member responses to determine the impact of effectiveness of each method on team cohesion and productivity.
Reliability & Validity
Reliability and validity in research are two of the greatest concerns for any researcher. Steps will be taken by the researcher to ensure both reliability and validity of the research conclusions. Reliability will be ensured by maintaining a consistency in the grouping of survey questions; questions measuring cohesion address cohesiveness (team relationships and dynamics, for example) and questions measuring productivity address measure production standards (numbers and metrics, for example). Validity will be ensured by securing a large sample size (75 respondents) and employing objective statistical analysis of the data, such as the utilization of EFA in Krumm et al. (2013) and CFA in Hill & Bartol (2016).
While there are few ethical concerns associated with this study, protecting the individual identity of workers is a consideration of the researcher. In order to maintain anonymity and ensure ethical protections for individual respondents, the coding system mentioned earlier (1-Ac, 1-Ap, 1-Bc, 1-Bp, 1-Cc, and 1-Cp) will be employed throughout the study. In this way, quantitative data is still collected without risking any personal information about those involved in the research while still collecting relevant and substantive data about the subject.
Strengths & Challenges
As with any study, both strengths and challenges exist within the study. One major strength of this study is the filling of research gaps within existing literature, which not only aids current literature on the subject but also provides a foundation for future research. Another strength is the
The major presenting challenge is the subjectivity of the responses from virtual team members surveyed in relation to team cohesion. While survey questions relating to productivity are measurable and objective, questions relating to cohesion are based upon the perceptions of those team members. While this is a valuable and worthy contribution to the study, it nonetheless presents a challenge to the researcher and research itself.
Avolio, B., Sosik, J., Kahai, S., Baker, B. (2014). "E-leadership: Re-examining transformations in leadership source and transmission". The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 105-131. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Cheshin, A., Kim, Y., Nathan, D. B., Ning, N., & Olson, J. S. (2013). “Emergence of differing electronic communication norms within partially distributed teams”. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 12, 7–21. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Gilson, L. L., Maynard, M. T., Young, N. C. J., Vartiainen, M., & Hakonen, M. (2015). “Virtual teams research 10 years, 10 themes, and 10 opportunities”. Journal of
Management, 41(5), 1313–1337. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Hill, N. S., & Bartol, K. M. (2016). “Empowering leadership and effective collaboration in geographically dispersed teams”. Personnel Psychology, 69, 159–198. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Hoch, J. & Kozlowski, S. (2014). “Leading Virtual Teams: Hierarchical Leadership
Structural Supports, and Shared Team Leadership”. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 99, No. 3, 390–403. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Krumm, S., Terwiel, K., & Hertel, G. (2013). “Challenges in norm formation and adherence”. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 12, 33–44. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Liao, C. (2017). ' Leadership in virtual teams: A multilevel perspective'. Human Resource Management Review 27, 648–659. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Lilian, S.C. (2014). 'Virtual teams: opportunities and challenges for e-leaders'. Contemporary Issues in Business, Management and Education, 110, 1251 - 1261. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
Savolainen, T. (2014). Trust-Building in e-Leadership: A Case Study of Leaders' Challenges and Skills in Technology-Mediated Interaction. Journal of Global Business Issues, 8(2), 45-56. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
My collection of personal papers written over the years