Home Business & Finance Distance Leadership in International Corporations: Why Organizations Struggle when Distances Grow
Frequency of face-to-face encounters between leaders and followers was assessed asking respondents “How often do you communicate with your leader face-to- face?”. This figure was applied in a previous study by Kirkman et al. (2004). In present research, more than half of the respondents had face-to-face interactions with their leaders on a daily basis (53.22%). More than a quarter of study partici?pants said they would interact face-to-face with their leaders weekly (26.34%). Thirty-seven followers responded that they would see their leaders on a monthly basis (9.95%) and equally many participants interacted face-to-face with leaders annually (9.95%). Two respondents indicated that there is no face-to-face interaction with their leader at all (0.54%).
For the use of e-mail, 347 respondents declared to interact with their leaders either daily (48.90%) or weekly (44.40%) which makes e-mail - beside face-to-face - the dominant leader-follower interaction channel. Nearly 5% indicated they exchanged e-mails with their supervisors monthly (4.80%). Three participants said they would exchange e-mails with their leader annually (0.80%) and four answered that they would not exchange e-mails at all (1.10%).
Almost one quarter of followers announced to use the telephone to communicate with their supervisors on a daily basis (24.20%). A larger percentage stated to use the telephone weekly (46.80%). A small portion of study participants used the telephone for interaction monthly (16.90%), or annually (4.30%), while 29 followers did not use the telephone for interaction with the supervisor (7.80%).
Videoconferences are the least-applied medium in international corporations, according to the responses of this study. Only four participants made daily use of videoconferencing (1.10%). A very small percentage (4.00%) used the medium weekly or monthly (7.30%). The majority of study respondents either used videoconferencing only annually (15.10%) or never (72.60%).
Already more than half of the subordinates use chat software to communicate with their leaders. Some do that daily (10.50%), weekly (13.70%), or monthly (10.50%). The majority of those individuals using chat use it on an annual frequency (19.40%). Still, a large portion of study participants did not use chat software for interaction with their leaders (46.00%).
To receive a meaningful indicator, taking the frequency of all channels into account, an Interaction Frequency Index (IFI) was calculated for each leader-follower pairing. Therefore, frequencies for all media types were assigned weights (e.g., daily = 4; annually = 1; never = 0), summed, and divided by the number of channels assessed. Frequency indices could vary between 0 and 4; with 0 accounting for no interaction at all and 4 accounting for daily interaction on five channels.
Scores of frequency indices were rounded in order to retrieve categories of responses. The categories were tested with Welch’s (1951) test of equality of means in order to assess for significant differences between the groups. The Welch’s t-test is a robust test, examining variances in means even if the assumption of equal vari?ances and sample sizes are violated (Kohr & Games, 1974). As a result, the test did not reveal any statistically significant differences in interaction behavior.
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