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RESEARCH REPORT Innovation in Globally Distributed Teams: The Role of LMX, Communication Frequency, and Member Influence on Team Decisions Ravi S. Gajendran and Aparna Joshi University of Illinois at...

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RESEARCH REPORT
Innovation in Globally Distributed Teams: The Role of LMX,
Communication Frequency, and Member Influence on Team Decisions
Ravi S. Gajendran and Aparna Joshi
University of Illinois at U
ana-Champaign
For globally distributed teams charged with innovation, member contributions to the team are crucial fo
effective performance. Prior research, however, suggests that members of globally distributed teams
often feel isolated and excluded from their team’s activities and decisions. How can leaders of such teams
foster member inclusion in team decisions? Drawing on leader–member exchange (LMX) theory, we
propose that for distributed teams, LMX and communication frequency jointly shape member influence
on team decisions. Findings from a test of our hypotheses using data from 40 globally distributed teams
suggest that LMX can enhance member influence on team decisions when it is sustained through frequent
leader–member communication. This joint effect is strengthened as team dispersion increases. At the
team level, member influence on team decisions has a positive effect on team innovation.
Keywords: distributed teams, virtual teams, LMX, team innovation, member influence on team decisions
Organizations are increasingly relying on globally distributed
teams as a means for spu
ing innovation (Gibson & Gi
s, 2006).
Such teams are characterized by geographic and time zone disper-
sion, reliance on electronic communication, and membership het-
erogeneity (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Gibson & Gi
s, 2006;
Martins, Gilson, & Maynard, XXXXXXXXXXTo innovate, globally distrib-
uted teams must harness the range of diverse knowledge and
expertise available within the team (Malhotra, Majchrzak, &
Rosen, XXXXXXXXXXIt is critical, therefore, that all team members have
an influence on its goals, priorities, and decisions (Kirkman,
Rosen, Tesluk, & Gibson, XXXXXXXXXXYet research suggests that
achieving such inclusion in team decision making is a challenge
for teams whose members are scattered across different locations
and time zones (e.g., Cramton, XXXXXXXXXXThis article, therefore,
focuses on the role of leaders in fostering innovation in distributed
teams by enabling member influence on team decisions.
Ensuring that members of distributed teams influence team deci-
sions presents challenges for leaders of distributed teams. Several
studies of distributed teams report uneven distribution of critical
task-related information among members—remote team members
often report being kept out of the loop on important information and
excluded from important team decisions (e.g., Armstrong & Cole,
2002; Breu & Hemingway, 2004; Cramton, 2001; Grinter, He
sleb,
& Pe
y, XXXXXXXXXXEchoing these findings, an accumulating body of
esearch on distributed work a
angements suggests that employees
who work remotely from their work groups can experience feelings of
isolation and disidentification (e.g., Cascio, 2000; Joshi, Lazarova, &
Liao, 2009; Maruping & Agarwal, 2004; Thatcher & Zhu, 2006;
Wiesenfeld, Raghuram, & Garud, 1999, XXXXXXXXXXWhen members are
on the periphery of team activities, their motivation to contribute ideas
and expertise may decrease (Ellemers, De Gilder, & Haslam, 2004;
Tyler & Blader, 2003; van Knippenberg & Ellemers, 2003), which
hurts the team’s ability to utilize its diverse talent base to deliver innova-
tive products and services. How then can leaders of globally distributed
teams promote member influence on team tasks and decisions?
We propose that leader–member exchange (LMX; Graen & Scan-
dura, 1987) is instrumental for fostering member involvement in
globally distributed teams. Relative to traditional collocated settings
where proximity facilitates a sense of belonging that motivates mem-
ers to contribute to the team (Fiol & O’Connor, 2005; Joshi et al.,
2009; Wiesenfeld et al., 1999, 2001), distributed team settings are
characterized by an impoverished team environment bereft of the
material, social, and symbolic cues that drive engagement with a
collective. In such settings, we examine whether high-quality LMX
could motivate members to provide inputs that influence team tasks
and decisions. High-quality LMX is characterized by leaders treating
followers as unique individuals, developing ongoing dyadic relation-
ships that are sustained through exchanges of material and socioemo-
tional resources (Graen & Scandura, 1987).
Additionally, recent research by Kacmar, Witt, Zivnuska, and
Gully XXXXXXXXXXsuggests that the beneficial effects of LMX on members
are amplified by communication frequency with the team leader.
According to Kacmar et al. (2003), relationship quality with the leade
is related to but distinct from communication frequency (see also
Antonakis & Atwater, XXXXXXXXXXThis leads us to consider communica-
tion frequency with the team leader as a moderator that could
strengthen the impact of LMX on member influence on team deci-
This article was published Online First June 18, 2012.
Ravi S. Gajendran, Department of Business Administration, College of
Business, University of Illinois at U
ana-Champaign; Aparna Joshi,
School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois at
U
ana-Champaign.
Aparna Joshi is now at the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania
State University.
Special thanks go to Raj Echambadi, Greg Northcraft, Jayashree Ravi,
and Su
a Tangirala for their help in developing this article.
Co
espondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ravi S.
Gajendran, College of Business, 487 Wohlers Hall, 1208 South Sixth
Street, Champaign, IL XXXXXXXXXXE-mail: XXXXXXXXXX
Journal of Applied Psychology © 2012 American Psychological Association
2012, Vol. 97, No. 6, 1252– XXXXXXXXXX/12/$12.00 DOI: XXXXXXXXXX/a0028958
1252
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sions in globally distributed teams. Figure 1 illustrates our multilevel
theoretical model. First, we investigated whether individual-level ef-
fects of LMX on member influence on team decisions depends on
team dispersion and member communication frequency with the team
leader. Member influence on team decisions refers to the degree of
member involvement in and impact on team activities and decisions
(Locke & Schweiger, 1979; Mitchell, XXXXXXXXXXTeam dispersion refers
to the extent to which members are distributed across different loca-
tions and time zones. Then, we examined whether member influence
on team decisions aggregated to the team level impacts team innova-
tion—the development of new ideas, processes, products, and proce-
dures that are designed by the team to be useful (West & Anderson,
1996).
Theory and Hypotheses
LMX and Member Influence on Team Decisions:
The Moderating Effect of Dispersion
Prior research has linked LMX to member influence on decision
making (e.g., Fairhurst & Chandler, 1989; Scandura, Graen, & No-
vak, XXXXXXXXXXMembers in high-quality LMX relationships with thei
team leader are likely to reciprocate the benefits accruing from it by
contributing their knowledge and inputs to the team (Hofmann,
Morgeson, & Ge
as, 2003; Liden, Spa
owe, & Wayne, XXXXXXXXXXSuch
contributions of expertise enhance member influence on team deci-
sions (Locke, Alavi, & Wagner, XXXXXXXXXXAlthough LMX can enhance
member influence on team decisions in all teams, we expected to find
that its effects are stronger in distributed teams.
As team dispersion increases, it increases the likelihood that mem-
ers are kept out of the loop on important team decisions and de-
creases the availability of physical and symbolic cues that signify
membership in the collective (e.g., Cramton, 2001; Kirkman, Rosen,
Gibson, Tesluk, & McPherson, 2002; Kraut, Edigo, & Galegher,
1990; Mortensen & Hinds, 2001; O’Leary & Cummings, XXXXXXXXXXThe
consequent feelings of isolation are expected to erode members’
psychological connection to the team and diminish their motivation to
contribute to it (Fiol & O’Connor, XXXXXXXXXXMoreover, team dispersion
not only reduces opportunities for members to contribute to the team
ut also reduces their ability to observe the impact of their contribu-
tions, which may lead to feelings of uncertainty about their value to
the team (Tyler & Blader, 2003).
A high-quality LMX relationship can be instrumental in motivating
member contributions to distributed teams by reducing uncertainty
and creating a psychological connection to the team. Because high-
quality LMX symbolizes support, acceptance, and security (Gerstne
& Day, 1997), it can empower team members and motivate them to
contribute to the team (Corsun & Enz, 1999; Keller & Dansereau,
1995; Parker & Price, XXXXXXXXXXFurther, a high-quality LMX relation-
ship signals to members that they are worthy of attention from an
authority figure, which reduces member uncertainty about their value
to the team and increases their willingness to contribute their expertise
toward team tasks (Tyler & Blader, XXXXXXXXXXTogether, such membe
self-enhancement and uncertainty reduction can also lead members to
identify with their team leader (Fiol & O’Connor, 2005; Schyns &
Day, XXXXXXXXXXIn the absence of physical or symbolic cues that connect
members to the team in distributed settings, the team leader could
ecome an important symbolic representation of the team (Eisenberg,
1986; Graen & Uhl-bien, 1995; Wayne, Shore, & Liden, 1997).
Feeling psychologically connected to the team this way could moti-
vate members to contribute to it. Such contributions are more likely to
influence team decisions because they are provided in the context of
a high-quality LMX relationship characterized by mutual trust and
espect.
The impact of a high-quality LMX on member influence on
team decisions is relevant for traditional collocated teams as well.
For instance, it may provide members with the interpersonal safety
equired for sharing novel insights with other members. However,
its implications for member inclusion in team activities are rela-
tively less critical in collocated teams where proximity and fre-
quent communication reinforce members’ psychological connec-
tion to the team, which motivates effort and contributions to it
(Ellemers et al., XXXXXXXXXXFrequent interactions also increase oppor-
tunities available for such contributions and provide opportunities
to observe their impact on team activities and decisions (Monge &
Contractor, XXXXXXXXXXTherefore, we expected to find that while LMX
positively impacts member influence on team decisions in all
teams, its effects are stronger as team dispersion increases.
Hypothesis 1: Team dispersion will moderate the positive
elationship between LMX and member influence on team
decisions such that the relationship will be stronger for teams
that are more dispersed.
Communication Frequency With Leader as Moderato
Prior research on the quality of communication among leader–
member dyads finds that it reflects LMX quality—communication
is positive and supportive when LMX is high but negative and
confrontational when LMX is low (Fairhurst, 1993; Mueller &
Team
InnovationLMX
Answered Same Day May 28, 2021

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Jose answered on May 28 2021
143 Votes
The University of Queensland
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Management
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Article Summary
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Lecturer:
Student Submitting:
Due Date: 22/05/2020
While analysing the article we can understand that it is mainly focused on the need for innovation in globally distributed teams. We know the fact that for managing the competition and for implementing new products the global organizations have to integrate innovation. From the article, we can also understand the contribution of each member is important for ensuring the effective performance of the teams. While analysing the article we can also...
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