[Air-L] Virtual Team Research

Ralf Friedrich ralf.friedrich at gepros.com
Wed Feb 10 04:49:52 PST 2010

Successful virtual idea teams through “Elective Leadership”-

Today, innovation and ideas are generated through cross-functional teams of peers. The peers are experts in their field and they have to work together as a team, frequently even as a virtual team. Elective leadership is an approach how leadership in such a team can be implemented to increase the success of idea generation teams.
Ralf Friedrich, lecturer at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and trainer and coach for project teams, launched an experiment for Virtual Teamwork. Curious voluntary participants are welcome and can find more information here: www.gepros.com/vtr

The background of the experiment:
The business world is changing rapidly and with this change new ways of organising work are being established. In the area of idea generation, more work is done through virtual teams (Chudoba, Katherine ).Virtual idea generation teams are teams which cross several boundaries, such as geographic, temporal, and organizational boundaries and primarily employ telecommunication and information technologies to accomplish a common task (Müthel and Högl, 2008).
More and more companies work in so-called onsite/offshore organizations where some team members are located in Europe and other team members are located in low cost countries. These virtual software development teams are tasked to develop complex software systems. The team members of these teams do not see each other and in order to master the project have to learn virtual work practices. Current virtual teamwork practices require different competencies and skills from the team members (Wong and Burton, 2000).
The approach promotes a team leadership approach called “elective leadership”. Instead of management selecting a leader for such a team, the team elects a leader and, if necessary, re-elects another leader, if the leader failed in his or her leadership role.
Team performance depends on the motivation, skills and competencies of its members on how to work in a virtual environment.
All the above authors describe concepts where basically peer groups provide feedback to each other to increase the performance of the learning group or project team.
However, the introduction of formal team leadership is not considered.
In a peer group, all members are on the same hierarchical level and have the same rights and duties. Elective leadership implements a leader and leadership responsibilities. The benefits of the elective leadership model is to have a person in charge of implementing important virtual team processes. It is recommended to focus on two virtual team processes in particular: the get-to-know-each-other process and the feedback process.

Warm regards,
Ralf Friedrich

More information about the Air-L mailing list