Home Business & Finance Distance Leadership in International Corporations: Why Organizations Struggle when Distances Grow
Leadership in combination with distance dimensions is still under-researched (An- tonakis & Atwater, 2002). Only few scholars have thus far attempted to inspect this new area within leadership theory (e.g., Andressen et al., 2012; Cole, Bruch & Shamir, 2009). Research conducted in this field is diverse in terms of leadership behaviors and related outcomes. Avolio and Kahai (2003) suggest that, in an environment of physical distance, charismatic leadership is most likely to be more effective than other leadership behaviors. This finding is confirmed by Hoyt and Blascovich (2003) who compile empirical evidence linking transformational leadership to positive team performance in a distance work setting. Since both transformational and transactional leaders are perceived as good communicators, the combination of both behaviors might positively influence follower performance (Neufeld, Wan & Fang, 2010). Academics generally agree that technology impacts the way corporations work. Avolio, Sosik, Kahai and Baker (2014, p. 106) argue that information technology fundamentally affects how leadership is viewed. With technology, physical distance can be reduced to a certain degree (Cairncross, 1997) and attention is placed on the building of high quality dyadic relationships (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).
Whereas physical distance in the workplace is a condition that often may not be directly influenced, the relationship between leaders and follower may be affected by both parties. The formation of differentiated relationships by leaders with their followers represents the main assumption of leader-member exchange (LMX) (Er- dogan & Bauer, 2014). As a result of this differentiation, the relationship may impact work-related outcomes. Employees experiencing high quality relationships with their leaders are more likely to receive advantageous mentoring and coaching treatment (Law, Wong, Wang & Wang, 2000). Not only has high quality relationship been found to be a predictor for transformational and transactional leadership behavior (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995; Wang, Law, Hackett, Wang & Chen, 2005), it has also been shown to act as moderator and mediator (e.g., Erdogan & Bauer, 2014; Liden, Wayne & Sparrowe, 2000; Wang et al., 2005).
When followers are distant from their leaders and control is limited, self-leading individuals are a potential response (Andressen et al., 2012). Self-leadership has caught the attention of academics in the past decades and yet research has only recently begun to examine the concept in combination with distance leadership. A first empirical attempt to explore effects of leadership behavior on follower selfleadership in a distance work environment was pursued by Andressen et al. (2012), whose findings indicate that self-leadership acts as a process factor determining motivation.
Summarizing the gaps in different work streams, this research represents the first effort to examine the impact of leadership behavior holistically, assessing the influences of Full Range Leadership. Investigations are conducted in both geographically close and dispersed context. While applying the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) 5X short (Bass & Avolio, 1995), a recently established research instrument is used to assess the extent of self-leadership among followers. For the first time the Self-Leadership Skills Inventory (Furtner & Rauthmann, in prep.) is applied to a sizeable sample in an organizational context.
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