Who Emerges into Virtual Team Leadership Roles? The Role of Achievement and Ascription Antecedents for Leadership Emergence Across the Virtuality Spectrum

Abstract

Leadership emergence theory discusses two pathways to leadership emergence—achievement (i.e. leaders’ behaviors) and ascription (i.e. leaders’ traits). Drawing from multilevel leadership emergence theory (Acton, Foti, Lord, & Gladfelter, 2019) which suggests that context influences the saliency of leadership emergence antecedents, our study simultaneously examined the incremental and relative importance of achievement and ascription antecedents to leadership emergence in contexts of low, medium, and high virtuality. In two independent samples—a laboratory experiment involving 86 teams (n = 340; sample one) and a semester long project involving 134 teams (n = 430; sample two)—we found that in low virtuality contexts, ascription factors accounted for incremental variance over achievement factors in predicting leadership emergence, and had larger relative importance. Conversely, in high virtuality contexts, achievement factors accounted for incremental variance over ascription factors in predicting leadership emergence, and had larger relative importance. Findings in medium virtuality contexts were mixed as achievement and ascription factors played relatively equal roles in the prediction of leadership emergence. Analyses employing other ratings of ascription (i.e. other-rated personality) found that a larger proportion of variance in leadership emergence was explained by other ratings than by self-ratings across all virtuality configurations.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Because participants varied in terms of collocation, chat discussions were the only communication that was available to all participants on any given team.

  2. 2.

    Descriptive statistics (i.e. means, standard deviations, and variable intercorrelations) within each virtuality context in samples one and two are available upon request from the first author.

  3. 3.

    The list of articles we reviewed is available upon request from the first author.

  4. 4.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for the suggestion to verify our results at the dyadic level for sample one. These dyadic analyses are available upon request from the first author.

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Purvanova, R.K., Charlier, S.D., Reeves, C.J. et al. Who Emerges into Virtual Team Leadership Roles? The Role of Achievement and Ascription Antecedents for Leadership Emergence Across the Virtuality Spectrum. J Bus Psychol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-020-09698-0

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Keywords

  • Leadership emergence
  • Virtual teams
  • Virtuality
  • Individual differences