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Leaders of global virtual teams (GVTs) during the economic crisis of 2008–2009 faced a leadership challenge very different from leadership of traditional, face-to-face…
Leaders of global virtual teams (GVTs) during the economic crisis of 2008–2009 faced a leadership challenge very different from leadership of traditional, face-to-face teams during normal economic conditions. Previous research has shown that the effect of leadership tends to become diminished in virtual team situations, due to well-known challenges of virtual working (geographic dispersion, computer-mediated communication, time zone, cultural and language differences); however, little empirical research has been undertaken during crisis periods such as experienced in 2008–2009 to evaluate the effect of leadership on team outcomes during times of crisis. We present findings which shed light on the impact of three sets of leadership behaviour, as described by FIRO theory (Schutz, 1958), that is, inclusion (participation), control (structure) and affection (personal support), on virtual team motivation and cohesiveness spanning the time of the recent global economic recession. Beginning in March 2008 spanning one year to March 2009, 221 team members within 31 operational GVTs located across 22 countries responded to a three-part, online survey relating to perceptions of team leader behaviour, team motivation and cohesiveness. Findings showed significant positive relationships between leaders' perceived expression of inclusion and personal support and motivation and cohesiveness outcomes. In addition, perceived team cohesiveness was positively correlated to perceived team motivation. Results suggest the need for virtual leaders to ‘turn up the volume’ in their initiated inter-personal behaviour, that is, to increase efforts in participation and supportiveness to bridge the considerable gaps between themselves and team members working virtually and to maintain motivation during difficult times. Correspondent to these findings, we surmise that leadership development programs need to be adjusted to include training and feedback mechanisms to support these types of GVTs leadership behaviours.
Bryan Adkins is the president of Denison Consulting. His primary expertise is in the area of organizational culture and leadership. He is an experienced consultant and coach working with leaders and teams as they guide their organizations through transitions. Bryan has led a number of large-scale culture change projects and provides consulting services designed to leverage the data collected through the use of the Denison model and associated diagnostics. Bryan holds a master's degree in business from Penn State University and his doctorate in human and organizational studies from The George Washington University.
Expatriate workforces are growing as a result of globalisation and the considerable cost associated with expatriation is a strong incentive to identify which employees are…
Expatriate workforces are growing as a result of globalisation and the considerable cost associated with expatriation is a strong incentive to identify which employees are most likely to adjust to the host nation. One area relevant to cross-cultural adjustment is interpersonal needs. The theory of fundamental interpersonal relations orientation as measured by the fundamental interpersonal relations orientation-behaviour (FIRO-B) may offer insights as to the relationship between interpersonal needs and cross-cultural adjustment. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
In total, 180 paper and pencil measures of the FIRO-B and expatriate adjustment scales (general, work, and interaction) were distributed via informed international associates and convenience and snowball sampling. In total, 112 expatriates from the UK (44 percent), South Africa (22 percent), India (20 percent), and other nations (14 percent) returned completed questionnaires.
Expatriates with higher levels of wanted affection were higher on all subscales of cross-cultural adjustment. Those who wanted and expressed the need for inclusion were significantly higher in interaction adjustment while those who expressed and wanted control were less adjusted to work.
The cross-sectional design limits the extent to which these findings can be interpreted as causal and the small sample size may limit the generalisability of the findings and common method via self-report may also inflate inter-relationship. However, the underlying theoretical premise would strongly support the hypothesised directional relationships in the normal population. A number of factors beyond the scope of this study may play a fundamental role including cultural similarity.
Whilst not predictive, and acknowledging that environmental factors may vary, these results give an indication that interpersonal needs are related to successful adjustment in expatriates. As such these findings could be used to help inform the recruitment and training of expatriates in areas of interpersonal interaction taking into consideration intrapersonal needs.
No study to date has explored the inter-relationship between the interpersonal needs and expatriate adjustment. This is the first paper to do so and identify that there is a significant association between expatriate’s motives for interaction and their level of cross-cultural adjustment.