Signature Assignment: Part One
BTM 7300, Assignment 11
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Antoinette Kohlman
4 June 2017
Signature Assignment: Part One
This paper constitutes part one of my signature assignment for Scholarly Literature Review. In part one of this signature assignment, I will endeavor to expand upon and discuss specific research themes based upon my analysis of twenty-two study articles. Throughout this literature review, I will provide details regarding the connections or relationship uncovered in the analysis and synthesis of these twenty-two research study articles.
These articles focus on the role that technology plays in the twenty-first century workplace and the challenges they present to the modern organizational leader. Examples of questions researched and explored in these articles are: How does technology impact communication? Within the context of a virtual workplace, how does one maintain a cohesive culture without maintaining regular and personal interaction with the workforce? In the multi-generational workforce environment, how does the modern e-leader motivate successive generations when their understanding and capabilities of technology are so widely varied? What is the value of ethical training in new technologies? What leadership skills are most important in a multi-generational workforce environment? How does team climate impact employee production deviance?
The synthesis of information on this subject will include frameworks employed, study methodology, data collection instruments, study participants, study findings, study limitations, as well as my conclusion. My conclusion will be based upon the analysis and synthesizing of data collected in these articles, and will discuss how these findings will impact my own current and future research on the subject.
Nineteen out of these twenty-two study articles employed a theoretical framework. In these articles, the author(s) present the theory which attempts to explain why the problem under examination is being investigated, thus describing the theoretical framework in which they are operating (Corley, 2011). Two of the twenty-two research articles employed a conceptual framework in their research (Lilian, 2014; Nadolny, 2013), while the one remaining author used a mixed methods approach, employing both a theoretical and conceptual framework in their research (Ferguson, 2016). Within a conceptual framework, the author seeks to organize ideas in such a way that makes conceptual distinctions (Rocco, 2009). One consistent pattern that emerged in synthesizing these articles was that there were no consistent theoretical frameworks across these twenty-two articles. Authors utilized a variety of frameworks depending upon the focus of their research.
A variety of theoretical frameworks were employed including motivating language theory (Sarros, 2014), adaptive structure theory (Avolio, 2013), content analysis (Savolainen, 2014), grounded research theory (Chua, 2017), and the phenomenological approach (Sharma, 2015). However, no singular framework was employed across multiple sources. Other theoretical frameworks employed included the social exchange theory (Zhang, 2015) used to study the relationship and work ethic between managers and employees, the social forces theory (Clark, 2017) to study how multiple generations interacted within a singular workforce environment, and another researcher used the concept management cultural framework (El-Sofany, 2014) to examine how to best manage virtual teams.
Motivating Language Theory is a theoretical framework which evaluates how language from organizational leaders actually impacts the performance of the workers to whom it is spoken (Sarros, 2014). Adaptive structure theory is a theoretical framework which seeks to examine the e-leader and the various ways he/she leads utilizing technology, as well as how the use of workplace technology is itself affected by leadership (Avolio, 2013).
The theoretical framework of content analysis, as employed by Savolainen, is a multi-tiered approach to analysis and synthesizing content gathered in the process of data collection. The content is first arranged by theme, and subsequently classified into concepts. These concepts are then subjected to an inductive study which seeks to uncover the essential findings of the research. These essential findings, then, help form the basis of the author’s conclusions (Savolainen, 2014).
The theoretical framework employed by Sharma, known as the phenomenological approach, explores the codependent relationship of society and technology. Within this theoretical framework, the correlation between ethics and technology are explored by observing a series of direct interactions with technological users of various social networking sites (Sharma, 2015).
Despite the lack of a singular, consistent framework in their research on this topic, the most common type of framework employed was a quantitative methodological approach as opposed to a qualitative methodological approach. Thirteen of the twenty-two articles employed a quantitative approach while three employed a qualitative approach (Brooks, 2010; Sharma, 2015; Kiesenbauer, 2015). In most cases, the authors researched and cited in this literature review draft were not seeking to necessarily answer a question of why something was true or false, but rather questions of where, when, how, and how much of something was taking place. Much of the cited research based their findings and conclusions upon such quantitative questions and analysis.
Identifying a Theoretical Framework
As a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree at Northcentral University, it is of the upmost importance that a theoretical or conceptual framework be identified at the earliest stages of the dissertation research. In researching and writing about the subject of the role that technology plays in the twenty-first century workplace and the challenges they present to the leader, a theoretical or conceptual must be identified to guide my research and writing.
A theoretical framework is used in either developing a new theory or expanding on a current theory (Corley, 2011), as opposed to a conceptual framework which is used in solving a practical problem (Rocco, 2009). In these early stages of my own research, a theoretical as opposed to a conceptual framework has taken shape as the particular task at this point is to expand on current research and theory, as evidenced by this brief literature review draft, rather than to solve a practical problem. In these early stages of research and writing, the theoretical framework that I will be looking to employ is known as the Grounded Research Theory Methodology.
Grounded Research Theory Methodology
Grounded research theory methodology is a theoretical framework developed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and is a methodology of systematic data analyses. Data is collected through interviews, surveys, or questionnaires, which is then systematically analyzed and interpreted. The interpretation and analysis of the data then leads to the development of a theory (Chua, 2017). In this way, the resulting theory is grounded in the research rather than simply formulated subjectively by the researcher.
Within this theoretical framework, there exist certain criteria which help determine the validity of the data. First, there must be a constant comparison of the research findings with everyday experience (Chua, 2017). Secondly, the results of the research findings must be applied in the field. Finally, the abstract nature of the theory must be adapted for application in a variety of contexts (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
Why grounded research theory?
The grounded research theory seems to work best for the purposes of my research primarily due to the fact that it allows for data to be collected, analyzed and synthesized, and then interpreted objectively. This interpretation then leads to the development of a theory, which can then be expanded or modified as new data is collected. Finally, it can and should lead to a positive impact in the sphere of influence in which it is applied.
Grounded research theory in studying ethics and information technology
For example, included in my research will be the treatment of ethics in the virtual workplace saturated with information technology. How does the modern e-leader ensure that such information, which is often sensitive in nature, get treated in an ethically appropriate manner? Certain research is already underway in this field (Brooks, 2010; Sharma, 2015; Verma, 2016) and, as a result, a degree of data collection has already taken place. Therefore, my literature review on this subject would already include data collected on one of the very topics which would comprise my own research and dissertation. The next step would be the synthesizing, analyzing, and interpreting of the data upon which a new theory could be developed. In this methodology, employing grounded research theory as a theoretical framework would be instrumental in the formation of a new theory on the subject.
Grounded research theory in studying a multi-generational workforce
A further area of study within the scope of my research includes the challenges e-leaders will face in leading multi-generational workforces in a technologically saturated environment. As with the aforementioned subject of ethics and technology, this is a subject which is currently being researched and about which data already exists.
For example, multiple studies have recently been conducted which found that different age groups view e-leadership differently (Patchanee, 2011; Mackenzie, 2010). Similarly, multiple studies have recently been conducted which deal with the challenges of leading the Millennial generation in a technological workplace of hyperconnectivity (Cheong, 2016) and the resulting communication (Lilian, 2014) and public relations (Kiesenbauer, 2015) challenges faced by both modern and future e-leaders. Further studies have recently been conducted which specifically deal with these challenges as they apply to government employees and their supervisors (El Khouly, 2014).
By operating within the theoretical framework of the grounded research theory, the data collected by these authors, which is already collected and available, can be analyzed, synthesized, and interpreted in such a way that a new theory can be developed and subsequently built upon. As with the previous example of the treatment of ethics in the virtual workplace, the theoretical framework of grounded research methodology allows for the pre-existing research and data to form the basis of the theory rather than the subjective and perhaps biased view of the researcher.
Very few of the authors used a qualitative methodological approach in their research. In the case of three of the four authors that employed this technique, their questions were related to issues of morality and ethics (Brooks, 2010; Ferguson, 2016; Sharma, 2015). In their qualitative approach, they were not seeking merely to find numerical patterns or statistical similarities, but they were rather seeking deeper answers to questions of human psychology. As previously mentioned, one author used a mixed methods approach, utilizing both a quantitative as well as a qualitative approach in his research on ethics and the virtual learning environment (Nadolny, 2013).
As previously mentioned, most of the authors researched and cited employed a quantitative methodological approach. Data was collected by a variety of data collection instruments, and the collected data was then summarized and analyzed. The results of the data form the basis of their conclusions. The vast majority of authors used this method, indicating that most research conducted on this topic deals with questions of quantitative rather than qualitative methodology.
As my own literature review continues to develop and take shape, a mixed method approach seems to be most suitable to the type of research taking place. A quantitative methodological approach would be instrumental in collected and analyzing data on the subject to see what existing patterns or trends are present within the research area. A qualitative methodological approach could then build upon that quantitative foundation in uncovering the reasons and motivations behind the conclusions presented by the collected data. While both are helpful, a solid qualitative methodological approach seems to be built upon a firm quantitative methodological foundation.
Data Collection Instrument
The form of data collection was also quite varied in the synthesis of these articles. The most common form of data collection was face-to-face interviews conducted by the authors and/or their research team (Cheong, 2010; El-Khouly, 2014; Ferguson, 2016; Kiesenbauer, 2015; Nadolny, 2013). One example of a face-to-face interview question employed in this data collection methodology was, “How does higher education prepare students to ethically use and manage information technology?” (Brooks, 2010). This question was asked in the process of investigating the issue of ethics and information technology and is a positive example of this type of data collection instrument being employed within a theoretical framework. However, even though this was the most common form of data collection, it was far from being present in the majority of cases.
Other common forms of data collection employed in this research were the survey method (Brooks, 2010; Clark, 2017; Sarros, 2014), the method of sending out questionnaires (El-Sofany, 2014; Verma, 2016; Zhang, 2015), and also the method of simple data collection and synthesis from previous and current research (Avolio, 2013). The particular study methodology utilized by researchers had no correlation with the data collection instrument employed by the researchers in their studies.
Particularly in the case of examining issues within the scope of organizational leadership such as communication, motivational language, and leadership in a virtual workplace, it would seem that face-to-face interviews would provide not only the most useful quantitative data, but qualitative data also. In this method of data collection, data is collected both in the form of verbal response to questions, but also in the form of non-verbal communication. By utilizing this method, the researcher will have the most complete and accurate picture of those responding by having the ability to analyze both necessary forms of communication. In my future and continued research on this subject of organizational leadership, I anticipate utilizing this instrument of data collection.
The study participants were also quite varied depending on the topic being researched. The most frequent study participants were business leaders and managers across the globe (El-Khouly, 2014). Most of these studies sought to engage both men and women, with the majority of cases being male business leaders (El-Sofany, 2014; Sarros, 2014). Other examples of study participants included students (Brooks, 2010; Cheong, 2016; Clark, 2017), university faculty members (Nadolny, 2013), IT professionals (El-Sofany, 2014; Verma, 2016; Zhang, 2015), and employees (Kiesenbauer, 2015). Each of these categories of participants – IT professionals, and employees – were employed in two separate studies. Additionally, one article specifically targeted both young and old in their research (Clark, 2017), while others targeted only a younger demographic in their study (Nadolny, 2013).
Every study adequately described the scope of its participants including age, gender, profession, as well as how many in each demographic were participating in the study. A few of the studies included less than one-hundred participants (El-Khouly, 2014; Brooks, 2010; Mackenzie, 2010), while most included several hundred participants. Two studies included more than one thousand participants (Cheong, 2016; Sarros, 2014), but this was the statistical outlier in this category.
There is an undeniable importance in settling on who will participate in the study, as it will, to a large extent, determine the outcome of the findings. The fewer participants encompassed in the study, the more limited will be the results and findings of the study. Similarly, the more focused the participants (men, business leaders, students, librarians, etc.) the more focused will be the results. It cannot be overstated the importance of targeting the desired demographic to participate in the study.
As each study was targeting various demographics and industries, the study findings were expectedly varied. Similarities or patterns across all articles’ findings existed when the research was centered on similar topics. For example, multiple studies found that different age groups view e-leadership differently (Patchanee, 2011; Mackenzie, 2010). In these studies, it was concluded that older generations see their e-leadership as being effective and well received, while the millennial generation does not. Under this umbrella of generational differences and a multi-generational workplace environment, another researcher concluded that generational differences, while presenting unique challenges, also foster a more diverse and productive workforce (Clark, 2017).
Several studies on ethics were conducted with varying focuses on the effects of technology on personal and organizational ethics. One study found that there is a high value in teaching ethics and interdisciplinary collaboration in virtual learning environments (Nadolny, 2013). While studying ethics, one author found that those in the library profession are very aware of the importance of ethics, but that technology creates the need for complex, new training in ethical decision-making (Ferguson, 2016).
Another discovered that team climate impacts employee production deviance, and, more specifically, co-worker deviance has a positive impact in this regard (Zhang, 2015). It was also concluded, in a separate study, that technical proficiency in the IT field does not translate to effective leadership. Rather, intangible skills such as communication and teamwork are equally important (El Sofany, 2014).
Several studies also concluded simply that more research needs to be conducted on the topic of e-leadership in the workplace (Patchanee, 2011). Multiple studies centered on the impact of technology on workplace communication (Patchanee, 2011; Mackenzie, 2010), and the results of a couple of these studies were simply that results were inconclusive and further research needs to be conducted (Savolainen, 2014).
This area of study findings is one of the most important aspects to consider in not only examining existing literature, but also in conducting original research. The results of study findings can provide a necessary starting point for research on the same subject. In this area of researching organizational leadership and, more specifically, the role that technology plays in the twenty-first century workplace and the challenges they present to the modern organizational leader, the findings of existing studies must not be neglected. As my own research continues to develop and unfold on this subject, it will no doubt be analyzed and constructed in light of existing study findings.
In a majority of cases, the impact of the study was limited to those who actually participated in the study. Several studies had limitations due to the type of industry being researched (Cheong, 2016; Ferguson, 2016), and a couple of studies had limitations based on the demographic being surveyed (students, employees, managers, etc.) (Brooks, 2010; Clark, 2017; Nadolny, 2013). In most cases, these limitations were clearly stated during the course of the research. Four studies were also limited based on geography as one was only researching Australian businesses (Sarros, 2014) and one was only researching Chinese businesses (Zhang, 2015). Of the remaining two articles limited by geography, one was only researching and examining European businesses and business leaders (Kiesenbauer, 2015) and the remaining research article limited their research area and implications to five specific geographic regions (El-Sofany, 2014).
In the case of those research articles with smaller sample sizes, the limitations included a recognized and admitted lack of the ability to project the conclusions of the researcher beyond the small sample size (Mackenzie, 2010). In these instances, the sample size was already small enough that the impact of the research would be extremely limited. Additionally, when an author had an already small sample size studied in an extremely limited and controlled environment, the limitations of the study were even more pronounced and recognized (El Khouly, 2014).
Every study faces certain limitations, and this is essential to both preparing and analyzing research on any given subject. Sample size is not only an integral consideration, but also the geographic location to be studied and researched. As I plan to study and investigate the sector of not-for-profit organizations, it will be important to also remember the limitations imposed upon research by the selecting of a specific industry.
Conclusion: Final Synthesis
These articles, while dealing with a variety of specific applications, all touch on the topic of organizational leadership in a technological environment. Multiple studies highlighted the need for strong ethical training and awareness (Ferguson, 2016), which is in line with other articles on the subject. Additionally, leadership is consistently being demonstrated to require both a technical and professional proficiency, as well as certain intangibles such as social awareness, good communication, and the ability to work with and lead a team of people (El-Sofany, 2014). This is especially true, and even more pronounced, in a multigenerational workforce environment (Clark, 2017).
The most fascinating and common theme throughout this brief literature review synthesis was the common factor of more research needing to be conducted. The issue of technology is well researched and documented, but the specific issue of e-leadership seems to be a relatively new field of study as the literature is far more limited in this regard. As I continue to develop my own literature review and broaden the scope of my own research in this field, it is my hope that I can uniquely and positively contribute to this research field. As mentioned previously, as my own research continue to develop, the theoretical framework of grounded research methodology will provide the most stable basis for this unique and positive contribution to the field of organizational e-leadership.
Also noteworthy was that the vast majority of research was of a quantitative nature as opposed to a qualitative study of the topic. In this sense, the research is collecting data without addressing the more important question of the underlying of causes of behavior, attitude, or psychology showing up in the data. As with the above paragraph regarding my own contribution to this field, I will also continue to endeavor to ultimately contribute in not only a quantitative way but also a qualitative way to this important research field. In keeping this value in mind, conducting research in the mixed methodology of both quantitative as well as qualitative will allow for my own unique research contribution to address both data collection as well as data analysis.
In both of these areas, it provides me with a fresh confidence that research is still to be done in the field of e-leadership and the technological challenges faced by the twenty-first century leader. As my own literature review continues to expand, and as my research continues to develop, one of my academic goals will continue to be a significant contributor to the field of e-leadership in a quantitative and qualitative way. This will provide the best academic foundation for not only my work, but also for future contribution to further research in this field of study.
Furthermore, as I navigate these academic channels and processes in researching this topic, I will look to operate within the theoretical framework provided by the grounded research methodology. As previously mentioned, this framework allows for pre-existing data, which has already been thoroughly researched and analyzed, to enter into the equation and formation of an entirely new theory. As discussed, an abundance of quantitative data exists on the subject already, and this data could be built upon in the formation of new research and theoretical or conceptual development.
The theoretical framework provided by grounded research methodology also allows for new data to be collected, analyzed, and interpreted in conjunction with the pre-existing data on the subject. In doing so, this theoretical framework provides room for constant re-evaluation and adjustment of the theory as more and more data is collected and analyzed. This process would only sharpen the theory as it takes shape, thereby allowing it a continually refined contribution to the field of study. This would not only provide an immediate research contribution, but also one on which future research could be based.
By utilizing this theoretical framework of grounded research methodology, it could also lead to the development and implementation of an entirely new conceptual framework as well in further research on the subject. For example, the resulting theory, developed and sharpened by continual theoretical research, could then be implemented into a real-world scenario to solve the practical problem which caused the theory to be initially investigated in the first place. In this way, grounded research methodology allows for not only a theoretical contribution to the field, but also a conceptual contribution.
As an example, if, through the course of testing the theory in the parameters of this theoretical framework it is discovered that current ethics training is insufficient, and a new theoretical model is constructed, this could lead to an entirely new conceptual framework. In this way, the theoretical framework of the grounded research theory could formulate a well-researched theory which, once constructed into a new conceptual framework, solves the problem which caused the theoretical framework to be employed from the outset of the research.
As I continue my own research, I am very much looking forward to implementing the grounded research theory into a theoretical framework for my research. As I collect my own data on the subject, it is my hope and ambition that my own unique contribution to this area of organizational leadership can ultimately lead to the solution to a practical problem within the field.
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NG, LR, NCU, USAR
My collection of personal papers written over the years