Understand the Qualitative Approach
BTM 7303, Assignment 4
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Susan Petroshius
31 October 2017
Introduction to Research 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). 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).
Research Problem, Purpose, & Questions
The research problem being addressed in this study is “How can the modern e-leader of not-for-profit organizations effectively communicate with and motivate a multi-generational workforce and volunteer base to work collectively toward a shared vision?” Therefore, the purpose of this research is to provide the modern e-leader of not-for-profit organizations with tools to increase their leadership potential and effectiveness in communicating with and motivating their multi-generational workforce and volunteer base to work together toward a shared vision. These tools will be based upon qualitative research and data gathered from personal interviews with workers in a multi-generational environment.
In addressing this research problem and aligning with this purpose, three research questions will be answered. Firstly, how can the e-leader overcome the loss of traditional communication benefits (non-verbal communication and personal interaction) in a technological environment? Secondly, how can the e-leader create “shared moments” (Savolainen, 2014) with the workforce? Finally, how can the e-leader ensure that technology is utilized ethically by the workforce? Each of these research questions align with the purpose of the research and are appropriate for a qualitative research study.
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. This paper will, therefore, be an examination of the e-leader and the challenges posed by this type of organizational structure and environment.
Overcoming the Loss of Traditional Workplace Benefits
As the workplace environment becomes both more global and technological, the challenge of communication will only be felt more acutely by those individuals in leadership. In the traditional workplace setting, leaders could take advantage of everyday opportunities to personally communicate with those within the organization. The e-leader, however, must often address the members of their organization virtually. Consequently, every word from their mouths, pens, tablets, or keyboards serves the purpose of informing employees and clients of the "state of thinking" within the organization (Sarros, 2014). This presents several challenges for the e-leader, such as having fewer opportunities for personal interaction with the workforce and volunteer base (Avolio, 2014), losing the benefit of non-verbal cues (Savolainen, 2014), and a technological working environment wrought with distractions not present in the traditional workplace (Cheong, 2016). Through qualitative research by conducting personal interviews with the workforce, this challenge will be examined.
Creating Shared Moments
One of the greatest benefits provided by the traditional workplace was the trust developed between leaders and members of the organization by creating “shared moments” (Savolainen, 2014). These personal moments create an "emotional glue" between the leader and members which serve to develop a cohesive and productive culture (Savolainen, 2014). The most important moments – such as celebrating victories, enduring hardships, and mediating personal conflicts between employees – must be captured by the e-leader despite fewer opportunities to do so (Savolainen, 2014). How can the e-leader create these important shared moments with the workforce and volunteer base? Research has shown that while strong workplace connections can be formed through “frequent online personal communication” (Cheng, 2017), time and space for personal interaction must be factored in (Savolainen, 2014). Recent research suggests events such as a weekly “happy hour” or personal and professional development dialogues is beneficial (Savolainen, 2014). This research will include personal responses about the most effectual means of shared moments between e-leaders and their workforce and volunteer bases.
Ensuring Ethical Use of Technology
One of the greatest and most dynamic challenges for the e-leader in motivating the workforce is ensuring ethical use of workplace technology (Sharma, 2015). Research has demonstrated that some of the greatest challenges involve the abuse of Information Technology systems for personal gain, thereby undermining the vision of the e-leader (Brooks, 2010) and, therefore, highlighting the need for ethics training for all employees and volunteers within the organization (Verma, 2016). How can the e-leader ensure that technology is utilized ethically by the workforce? Qualitative methodologies will be employed to examine and synthesize employee responses about ethics training and its effectiveness in communicating the importance of morality in the e-workplace.
For this study, the qualitative methodology of cooperative participatory action research will be employed. This form of research presents the workforce and volunteer base as not only subjects of the research, but also generators of new ideas based upon their role in the research itself (Martens, 2015). In cooperative participatory action research, the subjects also function as fellow researchers (Martens, 2015). The multi-generational not-for-profit workforce and volunteer base sit through personal interviews with the researcher and respond openly to the three research questions. Their own views and responses would then shape the types of communication, shared moments, and ethics training utilized by the researcher in their study. A second round of personal interviews would then be conducted to determine the degree of success to which the trials were successful in fulfilling the purpose of the research. Their responses would determine the conclusion of the research.
This qualitative methodology is best suited to address this research problem and answer the research questions because it provides direct and flexible interaction with the workforce most directly impacted by the actions of the e-leader. Furthermore, it also provides direct feedback and results to the e-leader from the very workforce and volunteer base they are seeking to communicate with and motivate effectively. By utilizing the qualitative methodology of cooperative participatory action research in conducting multiple rounds of personal interviews with volunteers and employees of a multi-generational not-for-profit organization, conclusions may be reached regarding which particular types of communication, shared moments, and ethics training utilized by organizational e-leaders serve to effectively communicate with and motivate their multi-generational workforce and volunteer base to work collectively toward a shared vision.
Al-Asfour, A. & Lettau, L. (2014). “Strategies for Leadership Styles for Multi-Generational Workforce”. Journal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics, 11(2), 58-69. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
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. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
Brooks, R. (2010). 'The Development Of A Code Of Ethics: An online classroom approach to making connections between ethical foundations and the challenges presented by Information Technology'. American Journal of Business Education, 3(10), 1-13. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
Cheng, X., Fu, S., de Vreede, G. (2017). “Understanding trust influencing factors in social media communication: A qualitative study”. International Journal of Information Management, 37(2), 25-35. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
Mertens, D.M. (2015). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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. Retrieved October 31, 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 October 31, 2017.
Sharma, S., Lomash, H., & Ba wa, S. (2015) 'Who regulates ethics in the virtual world?'. Science And Engineering Ethics, 21(1), 19-28. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
Verma, P., Mohapatra, S., & Lowstedt, J. (2016). 'Ethics Training in the Indian IT Sector: Formal, Informal, or Both?' Journal of Business Ethics, 123(1), 73-93. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
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