Title: Bridging the gap between traditional leadership theories and virtual team leadership

Authors: Suling Zhang, Jerry Fjermestad

Addresses: Department of Information Systems, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights Newark, NJ 07102, USA. ' School of Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights Newark, NJ 07102, USA

Abstract: This paper identifies the paucity of theoretical development in virtual team leadership research and proposes that virtual team leadership research can be more rigorous and enriched by applying traditional leadership theories, specifically, leadership traits theory and contingency theory. Existing virtual team leadership research regarding these two theories is reviewed and limitations are discussed. Four contingencies which characterise virtual team context are identified including physical distance, communicational distance, organisational distance and cultural distance. Three important leadership traits in virtual team context are discussed: communication competency, environmental alertness, and influence power. This paper calls for a hybrid approach in virtual team leadership research. The implications of the four virtual team contingencies on these leadership traits are presented and research propositions are raised. A conceptual model is presented based on the propositions.

Keywords: virtual team leadership; leadership theory; leader traits; contingency leadership theory; leadership traits theory; virtual team distances; virtual teams; communication competency; environmental alertness; influence power.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPM.2006.011253

International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 2006 Vol.6 No.3, pp.274 - 291

Published online: 09 Nov 2006 *

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