Special Theme

Electronic Markets

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 37-48

First online:

Leader delegation in global software teams: occurrence and effects

  • Suling ZhangAffiliated withInternational College (Suzhou Research Institute), Renmin University of China Email author 
  • , Marilyn TremaineAffiliated withCAIP, Rutgers University
  • , Allen E. MilewskiAffiliated withDepartment of Software Engineering, Monmouth University
  • , Jerry FjermestadAffiliated withSchool of Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • , Patrick O’SullivanAffiliated withIBM Corporation

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Global teams are an important work structure in software development projects. Managing such complex global software projects presents many challenges to traditional leadership wisdom, in particular, how, why and when the leaders should delegate responsibility and authority. Delegation is considered an important leadership component to motivate and grow subordinates. Cultural differences, skill level disparity and potential competition between different software development sites creates a management context which is much different from where traditional leadership theories were developed. This study investigates leader delegation behaviors in global software teams and explores the reasons and impact of delegation strategies on global team performance. Semi-structured interviews and a survey was used to collect data from global software team managers and members from four countries of a Fortune 100 IT service company. The results of this study include in-depth analysis of hows and whys of leader delegation in global teams and a theoretical model for analyzing global team leader delegation occurrence and effects.


Global software team management Leader delegation Leadership vs. management