Online medical teams (MTs), involving collaboration between remote healthcare workers, can provide comprehensive and rapid healthcare to patients. The growth in MTs is continuing, with popularity growing among doctors and patients, but some MTs disband, which could break the continuity of healthcare services provided. We aim to address this pressing issue by exploring the effects of team diversity and leadership types on team status (i.e. team disbandment (TD)). This paper systematically investigates the influences of team diversity, including separation, variety and disparity diversity and the effects of leadership types, including strong, equal and weak types.
A data set consisting 1,071 online MTs was collected from the Good Doctor website, a leading Chinese online health community (OHC), on January 10, 2018. The data captured included 206 teams which disbanded after 3 months collaboration. Logistic regression and maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) were used to examine their effects.
The results show that variety diversity, related to departments, positively affects TD, but disparity diversity, referring to clinician titles, negatively affects TD. Separation diversity, in terms of team member attitudes, exerts a negligible influence on disbandment. Although strong and equal leadership types negatively influence TD, they are seen to strengthen the positive effect of variety diversity, suggesting stable structure combinations of strong or equal-type leadership and low department diversity, as well as the match of weak-type leadership and high department diversity.
This paper extends the current understanding of virtual teams and OHCs by examining the role of leadership types and team diversity, and their influencing role on team status. The pairwise combinations are obtained to effectively reduce the disbandment probability of medical teams operating in OHCs, which could help platform managers, team founders and those connected with MTs deal with the team-disbandment crisis, providing both theoretical and practical implications to healthcare providers and researchers alike.
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation Program of China [71671073, 71971092, 71722014, 91646113]. We also appreciate the support from the Youth Innovation Team of Shanxi Universities “Big data and Business Intelligent Innovation Team.”
Li, J., Wu, H., Deng, Z., Evans, R.D., Hong, Z. and Liu, S. (2021), "Why online medical teams disband? The role of team diversity and leadership type", Information Technology & People, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 1175-1199. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2019-0534
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