Develop a Proposal
BTM 8108, Assignment 1
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Craig Martin
22 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 grounded theory research.
Grounded theory research
Grounded theory research was first developed by Glaser & Strauss (1967) and was formulated as a response to “the extreme positivism that had permeated most social research” (Suddaby, 2006). Grounded theory research is a holistic examination of individual interpretations of truth. Grounded theory research argues that “scientific truth results from both the act of observation and the emerging consensus within a community of observers as they make sense of what they have observed” (Suddaby, 2006). The aim of grounded theory research is to discover such scientific truth by observation, interviews, and other means of data collection and subsequently translating such data into statements about causal relationships between actors (Suddaby, 2006). Mertens (2015) noted that qualitative research utilizes the researcher as the primary means of data collection, whereas quantitative methodology utilizes other means (survey, interview, questionnaire) for data collection. In this proposal, the researcher will serve as the primary means of data collection to discover these causal relationships. These causal relationships will then form the basis of theory-generation which contribute to the field of study (Hussein et al, 2014).
Unlike other methodologies, grounded theory research does not start with a hypothesis which is being examined and tested. Rather, the researcher begins with a problem and question, collects data from participants, and, lastly, generates a hypothesis (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). As Creswell & Poth (2018) noted, qualitative research should conclude with an “action agenda for reform that may change the lives of participants” once the research problem has been examined, participants have been observed and interacted with, and a conclusion has been reached.
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 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. 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 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 members over a three-month period (Mertens, 2015). The initial interviews will be conducted at the outset of the study with two subsequent interviews being conducted once per month for a total of three interviews during the three-month observation period.
Grounded theory implementation
This qualitative study will utilize grounded theory research to discover virtual team member perception of truth by means observation and interviews with virtual team leaders throughout the district. 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 (Hussein et al, 2014). As befits grounded theory research, the study will conclude with an action agenda for reform for the e-leader, who, in this case, is the District Superintendent. This action agenda will be rooted in the generated theory of e-leadership which surfaces following a close examination of the categorized statements. This action agenda is to better inform the e-leader of his perceived effectiveness by virtual team leaders and to improve team effectiveness and performance.
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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. doi: 10.1027/1866-5888/a000076
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