Create Research Questions
BTM 8108, Assignment 5
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Craig Martin
19 August 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.
Relevance of Study
As the modern workforce continues to diversify with older generations continuing to work and younger generations matriculating into the workforce, organizational leaders face the problem of leading an increasingly diverse workforce (Al-Asfour, 2014). Additionally, as the modern workplace increases in the development and implementation of technology and broadens its geographic footprint, organizational leaders will continue to be pressed to hone their expertise as technological leaders (Al-Asfour, 2014). Furthermore, research has additionally concluded that the technological work environment has created additional need for research in this field. Recent research on e-leadership has been conducted in a variety of fields to include schools (Cheong, 2016; Chua, 2017; Clark, 2017), university faculties (Nadolny, 2013) the government sector (El Khouly, 2014), communication professionals (Jiang, 2016) and Information Technology (IT) professionals (El-Sofany, 2014; Verma, 2016; Zhang, 2015). Each researcher, while acknowledging the contribution of their study to their field, noted the need for additional research in other areas and locations where e-leadership was utilized.
This combination of factors presents a unique set of challenges to the twenty-first century organizational leader, identified as an “e-leader” (Avolio, 2014; Brooks, 2010; Savolainen, 2014; Sharma, 2015; Verma, 2016), which require a unique set of skills in order to lead organizations effectively.
What is E-Leadership?
Scholars have defined e-leadership as the style of leadership by those leaders who mainly use “technological mediation in their leadership work” (Savolainen, 2014). The need for this technological mediation could be the result of either cultural or geographic challenges (Avolio, 2014). Due to these technological, cultural, and geographic challenges, e-leaders face the unique dilemma of communicating with their workforce from remote locations rather than in-person (Mackenzie, 2010). Chua (2017) noted that e-leadership was the exercise of social influence by means of information and communication technology for the purpose of producing change in performance and behavior in individuals and organizations. Garcia (2015) pointed to the creation of new leadership terms such as e-visioning, e-charisma, e-ethics, e-trust, e-culture and e-communication to highlight the rise of e-leadership. This unique leadership style, he argues, is both a refinement of traditional leadership skills and the development of entirely new leadership skills in the technology-saturated workplace.
Research Problem, Purpose, & Questions
The research problem being addressed in this proposal is this: What are the critical imperatives of e-leadership in developing and influencing deep, meaningful relationships between organizational e-leaders and followers? Several recent studies have recognized this gap in e-leadership literature and have communicated the need for further research in these areas (Avolio, 2014; Mackenzie, 2010; Patchanee, 2011; Lilian, 2014; Chua, 2017).
The purpose of this qualitative proposal, therefore, is to examine the nature of relationship dynamics in the virtual workplace between e-leader and follower and establish an effective leadership theory and methodologies for the e-leader to develop intimacy and trust in both individual relationship and organizational culture. This purpose will be accomplished by face-to-face interviews with 40 virtual team members and 10 e-leaders from 3 different organizations.
To adequately address the research problem and fulfill the research purpose, the following research questions are posed and answered throughout this study:
1. How do face-to-face meetings between e-leader and individual virtual team members correlate to an increase in team member interactions?
2. What are the effects of professional development sessions between e-leader and individual virtual team members on team performance?
3. In what ways do individual coaching sessions between e-leader and individual team members correlate to improved team performance?
4. How do e-leaders of virtual teams effectively cultivate a culture of intimacy and trust?
5. What methods of digital communication are most effective in developing relational intimacy between e-leaders and workers?
As the purpose of this qualitative proposal is not simply to describe the subjective experience of either the e-leader or follower in their subjective relational experience, but rather to establish effective methodologies for impactful relational e-leadership, the qualitative design of grounded theory research will be employed (Creswell, 2013). As grounded theory research emphasizes the “interactions and social processes of people” (Creswell, 2013), it is an appropriate design for a qualitative proposal in which the purpose is to establish theories and methodologies which seek to positively influence virtual interactions and social processes between e-leader and follower.
Population & Sample
For this qualitative proposal, face-to-face interviews will be conducted with 100 virtual team members and 10 e-leaders from 3 different organizations. For the purposes of this proposal, virtual team members are defined as employees of the organizational who are grouped into small teams of 5-10 employees and who are spread out geographically and only connected through technological means. Lilian (2014) and Serban (2015) have recently researched this issue of e-leadership of virtual teams and concluded that relational and leadership dynamics are greatly impacted by virtual communication as opposed to personal, face-to-face communication. This highlights the need for further research to be conducted within these organizational populations and samples.
Data Collection & Protection of Human Subjects
While various data collection instruments have been employed in e-leadership research, face-to-face interviews were used by several research teams while studying this subject (Cheong, 2010; El-Khouly, 2014; Ferguson, 2016; Kiesenbauer, 2015; Nadolny, 2013). This data collection methodology is preferable for this study over electronic surveys or electronic or telephonic interviews primarily because it allows the researcher to gather more data for field notes including facial expressions, non-verbal communication, tonality when responding, and additional personal interaction that would unable to be gathered or observed using electronic or other data collection methodologies.
Since the data will be collected in the form of-face-to-face interviews with these workers, the data to be analyzed will their responses to questions asked by the researcher. Additionally, other field notes gathered by the researcher in the form of non-verbal communication will be gathered and compiled as well. Creswell (2013) suggests a “zigzag” pattern of data analysis whereby data is gathered in smaller, more manageable groupings of 20-25 interviews. Those responses are then taken from the research field and back to the office to be analyzed. The researcher would then form categories based upon those responses. Once the data from those 20-25 interviews have been thoroughly analyzed and categorized, the researcher would then go back to the field for another round of data collection, and then back to the office again for further data analyzation.
Once all the data has been collected and categorized, the researcher will then begin to “code” the data, combing through the categories to form larger, thematic categories (Creswell, 2013). These major categories will then undergo further analyzation during which process the elements or factors which caused these major categories to emerge will be extracted (Creswell, 2013). Finally, strategies and methodologies can be developed to formulate the new theory which will address the research problem and fulfill the purpose of the research. This form of data analysis will be employed throughout this qualitative proposal.
Issues of Trustworthiness
To minimize bias on the part of the researcher, steps will be taken throughout the proposal to ensure trustworthiness in the research being conducted. Firstly, the 50 workers and e-leaders will be randomly selected from the entire pool of employees within the organization. A balance of male to female employees will be selected as will a diverse selection of ethnicities and multi-generational employees. This sampling of employees will address this issue of trustworthiness in the research.
Additionally, each participant in the research process will be thoroughly briefed about the nature and purpose of the research being conducted. This briefing process will ensure that each participant is fully aware of not only the purpose of the research being conducted, but their role in it and the confidentiality built into the research process. The researcher will ensure that all responses to interview remain anonymous and confidential and each research participant will only be identified by an individual number, the number of the virtual team to which they are assigned, and the number of the organization of which they are a member. For the 10 e-leaders being interviewed in this process, the same steps will be taken throughout the research process for these same purposes.
This qualitative research proposal is being conducted to address the problem of discerning what the critical imperatives of e-leadership are in developing and influencing deep, meaningful relationships between organizational e-leaders and followers. By conducting 60 face-to-face interviews with both e-leaders and followers within three different organizations, data will be collected and analyzed for the purpose of developing a new theory regarding effective e-leadership in developing intimacy and trust in both individual relationship and organizational culture.
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