Guiding an invisible team: A first-hand insight into virtual leadership
Archer, C. and Wolf, K. (2013) Guiding an invisible team: A first-hand insight into virtual leadership. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2013: Design, develop, evaluate - The core of the learning environment, 7 - 8 February 2013, Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A
Over the past decade we have seen a strong shift towards blended approaches in both higher education and workplace environments. The business sector in particular has paid increased attention to the management of gradually more dispersed project teams (e.g. Gibson & Cohen, 2003; Hertel, Geister & Konradt, 2005; Lipnack & Stamps, 2008; Sridhar, Nath, Paul & Kapur, 2007; Webster & Staples, 2006). This in turn has put pressure on educators to teach effective virtual leadership; first, in order to sufficiently prepare students for a career in an increasingly globalised work environment, and second, to reflect a learning environment that is progressively characterised by online education and falling classroom attendance. This study took place in the context of a final year public relations unit that aims to prepare students for a career in an increasingly internationalised industry. Students participated in a communication challenge as part of global virtual teams, which had to overcome challenges such as the lack of face to face contact, working across different time zones, cultural and language differences, virtual conflict management and the need to motivate geographically dispersed team members. Particular attention has been paid to the role of the virtual team leader, as perceived by participating students. This paper provides insight into the complexities and challenges of virtual teams as opposed to traditional, face to face teams.
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