A Structurational Perspective on Leadership in Virtual Teams

  • Robert Heckman
  • Kevin Crowston
  • Nora Misiolek
Part of the IFIP International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 236)


Building on behavioural leadership theory and structuration theory, we present a two-order theory of leadership. It describes four classes of first-order leadership behaviours (task coordination, substantive task contribution, group maintenance and boundary spanning) and defines second-order leadership as behaviour that influences changes in the structure that guides group action. We argue that second-order leadership is enabled by first-order leadership and is therefore action embedded and grounded in processes that define the social identity of the group. We propose that effective virtual teams will exhibit a paradoxical combination of shared, distributed first-order leadership complemented by strong, concentrated, and centralized second-order leadership. We conclude by suggesting future research that might be conducted to test and further elaborate our theory.


Team Member Leadership Behavior Leadership Structure Virtual Team Task Coordination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Heckman
    • 1
  • Kevin Crowston
    • 1
  • Nora Misiolek
    • 2
  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySchool of Information StudiesSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Marist College School of Computer Science & MathematicsUSA

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