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Information and Communication Media Assignment

Added on -2019-09-20

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Literature ReviewDistributed work across different locations and/or working times is not a phenomenon of the last 15 years. There are many instructive examples of how people collaborated across larger distances in earlier times (King & Frost, 2002; O’Leary, Orlikowski, & Yates, 2002). However, with the rapid development of electronic information and communication media in the last years, distributed work has become much easier, faster and more efficient. The first istelework (telecommuting) which is done partially or completely outside of the main companyworkplace with the aid of information and telecommunication services (Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Konradt, Schmook, & Ma ̈lecke, 2000). Virtual groups exists when several teleworkersare combined and each member reports to the same manager. In contrast, a virtual team existswhen the members of a virtual group interact with each other in order to accomplish commongoals (Lipnack & Stamps, 1997). This distinction between virtual group and virtual team is parallel to the distinction between conventional groups and teams in the organizational literature (Kozlowski & Bell, 2003). Finally, virtual communities are larger entities of distributed work in which members participate via the Internet, guided by common purposes, roles and norms. In contrast to virtual teams, virtual communities are not implemented withinan organizational structure but are usually initiated by some of their members. Examples of virtual communities are Open Source software projects (Hertel, Niedner, & Herrmann, 2003; Moon & Sproull, 2002) or scientific collaboratories (Finholt, 2002). For reasons of feasibility, the current review is restricted to virtual teams. Apart from these more general differentiations, the more specific definition of virtual teams is still controversial (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Griffith & Neale, 2000; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). As a minimal consensus, virtual teams consist of (a) two or more persons who (b) collaborate interactively to achieve common goals, while (c) at least one of the team members works at a different location, organization, or at a different time so that (d) communication and coordination is predominantly based on electronic communication media (email, fax, phone, video conference, etc.). It is important to note that the latter two aspects in this definition are considered as dimensions rather than as dichotomized criteria that distinguish virtual teams from conventional face-to-face teams. While extreme cases of virtual teams can be imagined in which all members are working at different locations and communicate only via electronic media, most of the existing virtual teams have some face-to-face contact. At the same time, electronic communication media are not only used in virtual teams but also in conventional teams. Instead of trying to draw a clear line between virtual and non-virtual teams, it might bemore fruitful to consider the relative virtuality of a team and its consequences for management (Axtell et al., 2004; Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Griffith & Neale, 2001). From thisperspective, virtuality of a team is one aspect among other team characteristics (e.g., diversity, autonomy, time-restriction) that might broaden our understanding of teamwork in general. Potential indicators or measures of virtuality are the relation of face-to-face to nonface-to-face communication, the average distance between the members, or the number ofworking sites represented in the team together with the number of members at each site (Kirkman et al., 2004; O’Leary & Cummings, 2002). Similar to other human resource policies, the consequences of implementing high virtuality in teams can be evaluated at the individual, organizational, and societal level. At the individual level, potential advantages of
high virtuality include higher flexibility and time control together with higher responsibilities,work motivation, and empowerment of the team members. Challenges on the other hand are feelings of isolation and decreased interpersonal contact, increased chances of misunderstandings and conflict escalation, and increased opportunities of role ambiguity and goal conflicts due to commitments to different work-units. At the organizational level, virtualteams have particularly strategic advantages. For instance, teams can be staffed based on members’ expertise instead of their local availability, teams can work around the clock by having team members in different time zones, speed and flexibility in response to market demands can be increased, a closer connection to suppliers and/or customers can be accomplished, and expenses for traveling and office space can be reduced. Potential challenges at this level include difficulties to supervise team members’ activities and to prevent unproductive developments in time, along with additional costs for appropriate technology, issues of data security, and additional training programs. Finally, at the societal level, the implementation of virtual teams can help to develop regions with low infrastructureand employment rate, to integrate persons with low mobility due to handicaps or family care duties, and to decrease environmental strains by reducing commuting traffic and air pollution.However, virtual teams can also increase the isolation between people due to a technical work environment. These numerous advantages and challenges at all three evaluation levels call for guidance in order to profit from the advantages and to minimize the potential drawbacks. Most research has focused on the advantages and disadvantages of virtual teams. Relative to face-to-face teams, benefits attributed to the use of virtual teams include the ability to compose a team of experts flung across space and time, increases in staffing flexibility to meet market demands, and cost savings from reduced travel (Kirkman, Gibson, & Kim, 2012;Kirkman & Malthieu, 2005; Stanko & Gibson, 2009). Disadvantages include lower levels of team cohesion, work satisfaction, trust, cooperative behavior, social control, and commitmentto team goals; all factors that can negatively impact team performance. There is consensus among scholars that virtual teams are more difficult to lead than face-to-face teams (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Duarte & Snyder, 2001; Gibson & Cohen, 2003; Hinds & Kiesler, 2002; Lipnack & Stamps, 2000). As a consequence of the lack of face-to-face contact and geographical dispersion, as well as the (often) asynchronous nature of communication, it is more difficult for team leaders to perform traditional hierarchical leadership behaviors such as motivating members and managing team dynamics (Avolio et al., 2000; Bell & Kozlowski,2002; Purvanova & Bono, 2009). It has been argued that leader influence can be extended by having leadership augmented by new media (Avolio & Kahai, 2003; Avolio et al., 2000) and that team leaders simply have to learn how to use and apply those media properly. Findings from empirical research show that getting virtual teams to function equivalently to face-to-face teams requires virtual team leaders to invest much more time and effort (Purvanova & Bono, 2009), although showing more initiative, trying harder, and investing more time and energy might not always be feasible. Some scholars suggest that leadership functions should be supplemented by providing structural supports (Bell & Kozlowki, 2002; Hinds & Kiesler, 2002; Kahai, Sosik, & Avolio, 2003). For example, structuring rewards to provide incentives for performance should result in higher motivation. Another suggested approach is to
supplement leadership by distributing leadership to team members (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002).Sharing leadership with team members is based on the premise that leadership should not be the sole responsibility of a hierarchical leader, but should be collectively exercised by empowering and developing individual team members (Kirkman, Rosen, Tesluk, & Gibson, 2004). Although this view of leadership challenges in virtual teams has consensus in the literature, it has not been subjected to empirical verification. With respect to improving team performance, it is important to understand the extent to which the influence of hierarchical leadership is attenuated (or not) as team virtuality increases. Moreover, if the influence of hierarchical leadership is diminished as is suspected, then the extent to which it can be supplemented by structural supports and shared team leadership (and, potentially, other supplements) becomes a critical target for theory and research extensions. To examine these issues, our conceptual model treats hierarchical leadership, structural supports, and shared team leadership as inputs to team performance. The model is illustrated in Figure 1. The basicpremise of our approach is that supplementing hierarchical leadership with shared leadership and structural supports will be more relevant when teams are more virtual in nature. Thus, thedegree of team virtuality is predicted to moderate the relationships between hierarchical leadership, structural supports, and shared team leadership with team performance. There are two notable aspects of the model. First, it is focused on the contribution of these input factors to team performance. The model does not focus on mediating processes at this stage of the research. The primary reason for this focused approach is to enable a clear evaluation of the moderating effects of virtuality on the contributions of hierarchical leadership, structural supports, and shared leadership to team performance. Second, the inputs are conceptualized as distinct higher-order factors or construct composites, rather than unitary constructs. This allows each of the inputs to be conceptualized as a composite of established constructs. For example, hierarchical leadership is represented by transformational leadership, leader–member exchange, and supervisory mentoring. Each of these constructs, as core aspects of hierarchical leadership, is supported by a body of theory and empirical research with established measures. Using established constructs and measures of hierarchical leadership asinput factors allows us to clearly assess the potential supplementary influence provided by structural supports and shared leadership. The same conceptual and measurement approach using established constructs and measures is applied to structural supports and shared leadership.With the growth and evolution of virtual teams during the past decade, researchers have focused on the conceptualization and measurement of team virtuality (e.g., Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Hinds, Liu, & Lyon, 2011; Kirkman & Malthieu, 2005). In early research, virtuality was treated as distinctly categorical; researchers applied a simple dichotomous characterization of virtual and face-to-face teams. More recently, however, scholars have asserted that this simple characterization glosses over a variety of nuanced dimensions that underlie a range of differences in the degree of virtuality (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006; MacCallum, Zhang, Preacher, & Rucker, 2002; Mesmer-Magnus et al., 2011). Whereas early conceptualizations focused exclusively on geographic distribution, subsequent conceptualizations added electronic communication and noted differences between the use of asynchronous and synchronous communications (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002). Empirical
research, accordingly, refers to both the facets of geographic distribution (e.g., O’Leary & Cummings, 2007; O’Leary & Mortensen, 2010) as well as the relative amount of e-communication media usage (Griffith, Sawyer, & Neale, 2003; Kirkman et al., 2004; MesmerMagnus et al., 2011) as indicative of “team virtuality.” This is now the established approach to conceptualizing virtuality.However, virtual teams increasingly span national boundaries and differences in cultural background are becoming more important to consider as an aspect of virtuality (Hinds et al., 2011; Staples & Zhao, 2006; Tsui, Nifadkar, & Ou, 2007). Indeed, Hinds et al. (2011) criticized the lack of inclusion of national and cultural differences in conceptualizations of virtuality. As “organizations are increasingly compelled to establish a presence in multiple countries as a means of reducing labor costs, capturing specialized expertise, and understanding emerging markets... they often create conditions in which workers must collaborate across national boundaries” (Hinds et al., 2011, p. 136). Accordingly, researchers need to put the global back into “global work” by considering cultural differences. Research is increasingly considering cultural differences as an important component of virtuality in globally dispersed teams (Chen, Kirkman, Kim, Farh, & Tangirala, 2010; Gibson & Gibbs, 2006; Tsui et al., 2007). Based on this evolving view of virtuality, our conceptualization comprises geographic distribution (e.g., O’Leary & Cummings, 2007), relative amount of e-communication media usage (e.g., Kirkman et al., 2004), and cultural diversity (e.g., Gibson & Gibbs, 2006; Hinds et al., 2011; Tsui et al., 2007) as an addition to the established components of team virtuality.In virtual teams, the stability and reduction of ambiguity provided by structural supports may compensate for the turbulence and unpredictability that characterizes virtual teamwork (Zaccaro & Bader, 2003; Zigurs, 2003). Bell and Kozlowski (2002) argued that because of the geographic dispersion of virtual teams, an important function of leadership is to create structures and routines that substitute for direct leadership influence and regulate team behavior. Consistent with research that suggests structural supports have direct relationships with outcomes that supplement hierarchical leadership (Podsakoff et al., 1996), our model conceptualizes them as having a direct relationship rather than a moderating one. Virtual team members usually work on virtual teams in addition to their line function and research has highlighted the importance of rewarding virtual team members for both aspects. Geographical dispersion can result in a lack of motivation to focus on virtual team responsibilities, makes monitoring of virtual team members difficult, and also creates higher levels of anonymity (Wiesenfeld, Raghuram, & Garud, 1999). Further, reward systems need to be fair, such that individual employees perceive they are being rewarded according to their inputs (e.g., effort, time, performance, etc.) on their virtual team work (Colquitt, 2004; Dulebohn & Martocchio, 1998; Schminke, Cropanzano, & Rupp, 2002). Being rewarded in a fair and transparent way for the work performed on the virtual team will lead employees to put more efforts toward virtual teamwork. Second, a major component of structural supports is the communication and information management systems used for virtual teams. Building and managing communication and information management systems that facilitate connectivity, remove perceptions of distance, and facilitate the organization and accessibility
of information can reduce feelings of lack of trust, anonymity, deindividuation, and perceptions of low social control. In addition, virtual teamwork is typically white-collar, knowledge based, intellectual, and interdependent. The management of communication and information is central to cognitive tasks (Clampitt & Downs, 2004; Faraj & Sproull, 2000). Thus, a key aspect of performance in virtual teams is managing the “triangle” of factors: shared knowledge (in changing and flexible organization structure), via electronic communication systems, and with experts as primary collaborators (Griffith et al., 2003; Kanawattanachai & Yoo, 2007; Malhotra & Majchrzak, 2004). As a form of structural support, managing communication and information flow (Fleishman et al., 1991) include information infrastructure and quality of information received, as well as the transparency and adequacy of communication and information management. Communication and information management are posited to influence virtual team performance. We expect that team virtuality moderates the relationship between structural supports and team performance.Shared team leadership describes a mutual influence process, characterized by collaborative decision-making and shared responsibility, whereby team members lead each other toward the achievement of goals (Day, Gronn, & Salas, 2004; Pearce & Conger, 2003). Shared team leadership is presumed to create stronger bonds among the team members; facilitate trust, cohesion, and commitment; and mitigate disadvantages of virtual teams (Pearce & Conger, 2003). Thus, sharing leadership functions with team members provides a mechanism to supplement hierarchical leadership in virtual teams (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Pearce, Yoo, &Alavi, 2004; Tyran, Tyran, & Shepherd, 2003). Scholars have argued that shared leadership isa more appropriate form of team leadership than hierarchical leadership represented by the solo leader (Brown & Gioia, 2002; Day et al., 2004; Yukl, 2010). Reasons for this include thenotion that team member communication is less formal and less hierarchically based, and, therefore, team members can more easily overcome communication difficulties (Bell & Kozlowki, 2002; Pearce et al., 2004). In addition, work processes in virtual teams are characterized as cognitively loaded, highly interdependent, yet autonomous. Complex teamwork requires the use of self-managing teams (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Pearce, 2004; Pearce & Manz, 2005). Team self-management and empowerment, in this context, has been shown to enhance virtual team performance in a sample 35 sales and service virtual teams in a high-technology organization (Kirkman et al., 2004). There is no “one best way” to measure shared leadership. The concept is in its infancy (Avolio, Jung, Murry, & Sivasbramaniam, 1996; Carson, Tesluk, & Marrone, 2007; Mayo, Meindl, & Pastor, 2003; Mehra, Smith, Dixon, & Robertson, 2006; Pearce & Conger, 2003), and, thus, a challenge facing researchers is determining how to measure shared team leadership. One primary approach has simply treated shared team leadership as analogous to hierarchical leadership, but conceptualized at the team level of analysis (Pearce & Sims, 2002). This approach assesses shared leadership as collective concept in the form of traditional leadership behaviors (e.g., transformational leadership) that are performed by team members. Typically, a traditional leadership measure—like transformational leadership—is referenced to the team as a collective to comprise shared team leadership. However, consistent with other researchers (Carson et al., 2007; Mayo et al., 2003; Mehra et al., 2006), we do not conceptualize shared team leadership as parallel with hierarchical leadership. Team members
do not need to necessarily perform the same kind of leadership behaviors as their supervisors (Künzle et al., 2010; Morgeson et al., 2010) in order to engage in shared leadership. Rather, shared leadership can be conceptualized as the extent to which team members behave in waysto prompt the team processes that underlie team performance. Team process researchers have distinguished cognitive, affective-motivational, and behavioral functions as keys to team effectiveness (Kozlowski & Bell, 2003; Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006). Team leader effectiveness, as outlined in functional leadership (McGrath, 1962), is based on leaders addressing the cognitive, affective, and behavioral functioning of their teams (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001). These leadership functions can be performed through informal leadership mechanisms (Morgeson et al., 2010) such as shared team leadership. In capturing shared leadership in virtual teams, affectivemotivational functions can be represented in terms of perceived team support, which is related to building trust and team cohesion (Kasper-Fuehrer & Ashkanasy, 2001) and may compensate for specific gaps resulting from the lack of face-to-face meetings in virtual teams, that is, lack of trust, and higher levels of anonymity (Jarvenpaa, 2004; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999).In the industrial economy organizations were typically structured hierarchically and, consequently, information was filtered through hierarchical structures and formal authority (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi, 2003), whereas in the new networked economy, power and information are hyperlinked and informal (Pulley, McCarthy, and Taylor, 2000). Inside organizations, there has been a movement from hierarchies towards flat, web-like organizations that enable better knowledge flows among business and allow spanning of organizational boundaries (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi, 2003). The boundaries have become blurred (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi 2003), which facilitates relationship-building inside organizations mainly through strong ties, and between different organizations through weak ties (Granowetter, 1973). Organizations no longer operate as stand-alone entities, but create networks of customers, suppliers, and partners (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi, 2003) enabled by information and communication technologies. At a broader level, economic development, such as the deregulation of many product and service industries, have led to reformulations inorganizations (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003). The growing popularity of inter organizational alliances, and a shift from production to service-related business (Kayworth & Leidner, 2002), have changed the ways to organize and manage work. Such changes have mainly beenfacilitated by information and communication technologies that improve knowledge management (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi, 2003) and dissemination of information on the global level, and have created new working methods and organizational structures increasing flexibility (Townsend, DeMarie, & Hendrickson, 1998), enhancing more effective goalreaching and enabling organizational success in global setting. In consequence, the exponential explosion in communication technologies has resulted in greater frequency of daily interactions with different actors (Zaccaro & Bader, 2003) who may be dispersed in different units of the same organization, in diversified geographic locations nationally or internationally, and in different time zones throughout the world. As a result, organizational work as well as leadership have become increasingly global (Zaccaro & Bader, 2003) due to spanned organizational boundaries (Jarvempaa & Tanriverdi, 2003), and web-like working environments based on the use of information and communication technology. Companies

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