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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behavior in E-Collaborative Teams

Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behavior in E-Collaborative Teams
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Author(s): Richard R. Reilly (Stevens Institute of Technology, USA), Karen Sobel Lojeski (Stevens Institute of Technology, USA) and Michael R. Ryan (Stevens Institute of Technology, USA)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 2
Source title: Emerging Trends and Challenges in Information Technology Management
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-019-6.ch192
ISBN13: 9781616921286
EISBN13: 9781466665361


The rapid evolution of networked organizations has led to a rise in global and virtual teams. An organization’s success is highly dependent on the use of such teams in projects focused on new product development, application software development, supply chain integration, and many other activities. Further, globalizing the innovation process using virtual resources has become an important way to access diverse sets of knowledge and has become an imperative for companies seeking to succeed in a global market (Santos, Doz & Williamson, 2004). Advances in communication technology have reshaped the manner and frequency of daily interactions between coworkers and customers. Telephones, videoconferencing, e-mail, and groupware have made it possible for people to collaborate without meeting face-to face (FTF) (Zaccaro & Bader, 2002). Research on virtual teams has identified three basic characteristics: members are geographically and/or organizationally dispersed, collaboration and communication occur through the use of information technologies, and interactions are more likely to be temporally displaced or asynchronous (e.g. Townsend, deMarie, & Hendrickson, 1998; Zigurs, 2002). Much of the literature assumes that teams are either virtual or FTF. Although some (e.g., Arnison, 2002), contend that it is virtually impossible to distinguish a virtual team from a traditional team due to the pervasive nature of technology and communications. We have taken an expanded perspective in our research. First, “virtualness” is not necessarily a dichotomous phenomenon (Pauleen, 2003). Most teams today, whether global, virtual or co-located, can be described by a mix of virtual and FTF interactions. The key characteristics used to define a “virtual team” are best thought of as contributing to a continuum (Zigurs, 2002, Griffith, Sawyer & Neale, 2003) of virtualness. For example, many co-located teams use e-mail or webbased collaboration or design tools. Second, the commonly cited characteristics of virtual teams are not the only factors influencing the attitudes, behavior, and innovativeness of team members. For example, global virtual teams engaged in new product development and other innovative activities are challenged by a number of different issues including building trust and motivating one another, cultural diversity and lack of goal clarity (Barczak & McDonough, 2003). Collaboration, whether FTF or computer mediated, occurs within a much broader context or climate, which includes interpersonal, social, organizational and technical factors, all of which have important implications for the attitudes and behavior of team members and their ability to succeed and innovate (O’Leary & Cummings, 2005). To be effective, leaders must promote a climate that supports innovation and business success (Harborne, 2003). This can only be accomplished when managers understand the issues that virtual team members face in the globalized workplace. Although there are clearly new sets of issues that present themselves to the 21st century networked workforce, the virtual team research to date has reported relatively few outcome differences between virtual teams and FTF teams (Powell, Piccoli and Blake, 2004). In most cases, these studies have treated virtualness as a dichotomous phenomenon, with FTF or “traditional” teams as a control group or comparator (e.g. Arnison, 2003; Aubert & Kelsey, 2003). Moreover, they have looked at the defining constructs of temporal, technological and geographic displacement in isolation from other potentially important variables (e.g. Montoya-Weiss, Massey & Song, 2001; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1998). We sought to examine the role of leadership in e-collaborative teams that differed in their “virtualness”. In previous research (Reilly, Sobel Lojeski, Dominick, 2005) we operationalized a broad set of variables that might more fully explain behavior, success, and innovation in workplace teams. We drew from both the recent virtual team research, which stresses computer-mediated interaction along with temporal and geographic displacement as well as more general concepts related to group dynamics and social interaction. We tried to understand how these variables, considered together, impacted trust, goal clarity and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB); all of which should be predictors of project success and innovation performance. Most global virtual team research considers geographic distance as a fundamental characteristic. But distance can also be used to describe the emotional or psychological gap between team members who work in the same building and regularly meet FTF. For a team working primarily in virtual space the socio-emotional “distance” may be a function of other factors, in addition to the obvious ones of geography and computer mediation. Our work will address two relatively unexplored issues in virtual team research: organizational citizenship behavior and leadership. Specifically, we sought to better understand the extent to which OCB occurs as teams become more virtual and how leadership influences OCB under differing conditions of virtual distance. We hypothesized that virtual distance would have a negative influence on OCB and that leadership would have a positive relationship to OCB. We also hypothesized that the influence of leadership on OCB would be stronger on collaborative teams with lower virtual distance.

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