Create a Proposal
BTM 8108, Assignment 1
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Craig Martin
29 July 2018
Qualitative research is a type of research utilized by researchers seeking to understand how events impact actors and how actors interpret such events (Suddaby, 2006). In accomplishing these objectives, four methods of data collection are used for gathering qualitative information: interviews, observations, documents, and audio-visual materials (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Each of these four methods can be utilized within five different types of qualitative studies. These five qualitative studies are narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory, ethnography, and case studies (Creswell & Poth, 2018). This proposal will be for a qualitative study designed utilizing case study research.
Case study research
Case study research is one form of qualitative research. In case study research, the researcher is focusing on examining a single setting for the purpose of understanding the dynamics at work between actors in that setting (Eisenhardt, 1989). Gomm, Hammersley, & Foster (2009) concurred, noting that the primary goal of case study research is to discover causal relationships in one case, not to determine whether they exist elsewhere. As one researcher noted, case study researchers examine “a contemporary phenomenon in its real-life context” (Yin, 1981). Case study research can serve one of two research purposes: to test theory or to generate theory (Eisenhardt, 1989). The primary difference in theory-testing research and theory-generating research is that theory-generating research typically uses multiple data collection methods. Case study researchers may utilize archival records, fieldwork, observations, verbal reports, or any combination of these methods for data collection (Yin, 1981). Theory-testing research may sufficiently use a singular method of data collection (Eisenhardt, 1989). Carson et. al (2001) noted that, regardless of methodology selection by the researcher, thirty or more interviews are necessary for data saturation in any case study research.
One major distinguishing factor of case study research is the burden of narrative writing present upon the researcher in communicating their findings (Yin, 1981). Yin noted that “the typical case study report is a lengthy narrative that follows no predictable structure and is hard to write and hard to read (Yin, 1981). Lincoln & Cuba (2002) noted that good narrative writing in case study research possesses four common characteristics: unity, overall organization, clarity, and craftsmanship. There is, therefore, a creative element present is the presentation of data discoveries by the case study researcher. The findings of the researcher will be better received by recipients if research categories and concise, clearly defined, and crafted in a well-organized manner.
E-leadership of virtual teams
The phenomena under investigation in this mini-proposal deals with e-leadership of virtual teams. E-leadership is an academic field of study that has emerged since the turn of the millennium (Savolainen, 2014) which involves organizational leadership of highly technological structures stretched over different cultures and geographic regions (Avolio, 2014). These widely dispersed organizational structures 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 are addressed by the e-leader (Hoch and Kozlowski, 2016).
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 which impact how these teams should be led. 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 for future research. Hill & Bartol (2016) found that effective e-leadership of virtual teams 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 also enhanced when e-leaders interact with individual team members. Writing about collaboration between e-leader and virtual team members, Liao (2017) notes that current literature does not address the process by which the e-leader interacts with individual virtual team members in a way that builds and maintains relationships.
Research proposal and purpose
This mini-proposal will examine e-leadership of virtual teams in the context of a regional district of a Christian denomination within the United States. This district is led by a District Superintendent and is comprised of thirty-nine churches spread out over a four-state area in the midwestern United States. The leadership challenge presented here is direct responsibility and oversight for thirty-nine individual churches distributed over an area of more than 400,000 square miles. These thirty-nine churches are grouped into six “teams”, each of which has a virtual team leader.
This qualitative study is an examination of e-leader/individual virtual team leader interaction and the perceived effect on virtual team cohesion and performance. In this study, the researcher will observe virtual interactions between the e-leader and virtual team leaders under his supervision. These virtual meetings consist of regularly scheduled video conferences between e-leader and virtual team leaders. Observations will be made by the researcher during virtual meetings between the e-leader and virtual team leaders. Furthermore, individual face-to-face interviews will be established between the researcher and virtual team leaders as a follow-up to these meetings. These meetings will be digitally recorded with audio-visual equipment and accompanied by copious written notes and observations on the part of the researcher. This is all accomplished in an effort to understand the perceived impact of virtual meetings between the e-leader and virtual team leaders. By studying these virtual professional development and coaching sessions between the e-leader and individual virtual team leaders, this study will provide e-leaders with research to positively improve their virtual team performance and effective e-leadership of virtual teams.
This qualitative case study centers on interviews and observations with six virtual team leaders within the district. Each virtual team leader has multiple pastors distributed over a large geographic area. These groups will be labeled accordingly with corresponding roman numerals of I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. During the three-month period of this study, bi-weekly virtual meetings between e-leader and virtual team leader are observed by the researcher. The initial interviews will be conducted at the outset of the study with subsequent interviews being conducted after each virtual interaction between e-leader and virtual team leaders during the three-month observation period. These interviews add up to thirty-six unique interviews throughout the case study, which accounts for sufficient data saturation (Carson et. al, 2001). These meetings are for the purpose of professional development and individual coaching sessions of virtual team leaders. These interactions will be labeled accordingly as d (professional development), or c (coaching), depending on the primary purpose of the virtual meeting. Observations are recorded by the researcher during the course of these meetings, and follow-up face-to-face interviews are scheduled with each virtual team member for the purpose of discerning team leader’s perception of leader effectiveness, meeting impact, and individual benefit.
Data collection for this qualitative case study will be accomplished through face-to-face interviews with individual team leaders by the researcher. These interviews will be recorded with digital audio/visual equipment and observations will be recorded and documented by the researcher. This method of data collection by conducting interviews is the most common data collection methodology employed in current literature on e-leadership (Chua, 2017) ; (Kiesenbauer, 2015) ; (Sarros, 2014) ; (Savolainen, 2014). The interviews for this study take the longitudinal approach which will tracks responses of virtual team leaders over a three-month period (Mertens, 2015).
Case study implementation
This qualitative case study is undertaken to discover virtual team member perception of truth by means observation and interviews with virtual team leaders throughout this single district. This case study will serve as one unique example of e-leadership which will be shared with other District Superintendents of this denomination across the country. This research purpose is consistent with Gomm, Hammersley, & Foster (2009) and others who note that the primary goal of case study research is to discover causal relationships in one case, not to determine whether they exist elsewhere.
These observation and interviews will subsequently be translated into categorized statements about causal relationships between actors (Suddaby, 2006). These categorized statements about causal relationships will then form the basis of theory-generation which contribute to the field of study (Yin, 1981).
Avolio, B., Sosik, J., Kahai, S., Baker, B. (2013). E-leadership: Re-examining transformations in leadership source and transmission. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 105-131. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.003
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Chua, Y.P., & Chua, Y.P. (2017). How are e-leadership practices in implementing a school virtual learning environment enhanced? Computers & Education, 109, 109 –121. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.02.012
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Sarros, J. C., Luca, E., Densten, I., & Santora, J. (2014). Leaders and their use of motivating language. Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 35(3), 226-240. doi: 10.1108/LODJ-06-2012-0073
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