Date of Graduation

12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Information Systems

Advisor

Viswanath Venkatesh

Committee Member

Fred Davis

Second Committee Member

Moez Limayem

Third Committee Member

Vikas Anand

Keywords

Social sciences; Applied sciences; Psychology; Dispersed teams; Dispersion; Information systems; Leadership; Software development; Virtual teams

Abstract

A mature body of research on leadership has investigated the impact of a variety of leadership behaviors and styles on team performance. This corpus of work is built on an assumption that team leaders can motivate, direct, and monitor teams by way of sustained, personal contact with team members. However, this assumption is being challenged by recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs). Use of ICTs has altered traditional team-based structures, enabling organizations to employ teams composed of members who are dispersed across geographic boundaries, while severing the direct, personal ties leaders have to team members. Recent reviews of the literature on dispersed teamwork point to the unique challenges faced by dispersed teams, including difficulties with communication, knowledge transfer, coordination, and Social exchange. No less than five of these reviews call for research on leadership as a means to alleviate these challenges. This dissertation proposal, organized as three essays, seeks to respond to this call by examining leadership issues with respect to task structure, team development, and team structure. Essay 1 explores the role of empowering leadership in helping dispersed teams, and individuals within these teams, cope with information systems development (ISD) risk factors. Essay 2 investigates how technology capabilities can be leveraged to support coaching behaviors directed at facilitating interpersonal processes. Essay 3 draws on the theory of behavioral complexity in leadership to examine how leaders can help dispersed teams respond to the challenges incurred by differing forms of geographic dispersion. The models are tested with data collected from members and leaders of dispersed teams in a large, multinational organization. Results show that leaders have significant and varied influences on dispersed team functioning and can be both beneficial and detrimental for dispersed teams under different conditions. This dissertation makes importance contributions to both research and practice by deepening our understanding of the impacts of leadership in the dispersed team context and providing insight into leadership interventions designed to support dispersed teams in coping with the challenges they face.

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