Reconsidering Virtuality Through a Paradox Lens

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Radostina K. Purvanova of Drake University
and Renata Kenda of Tilburg University. They recently published an article in Group and Organization Management entitled “Paradoxical Virtual Leadership: Reconsidering Virtuality Through a Paradox Lens” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Purvanova speaks about the motivation and impact of this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

The academic literature largely paints virtuality in negative overtones, whereas more and more organizations embrace technology-driven work practices, such as virtual work and virtual teaming. This begs the question: If virtuality is so bad, then why do organizations continue to “go virtual”? Our central motivation in pursuing this research was to advance a new theoretical lens through which to view virtuality – that of paradox. Our paradoxical perspective details both the costs and the benefits that virtuality offers organizations; furthermore, it easily lends itself to practical applications, especially applications in the area of virtual team leadership. In our paper, we discuss how virtual leaders can find synergies between the various challenges and opportunities their virtual teams face. Specifically, our perspective suggests that virtual leaders should blend various, and even contradictory, leadership skills and behaviors, to address virtuality’s competing and paradoxical demands. Hence, our paradoxical virtual leadership model emphasizes the ideas of balance and synergy. This stands in contrast to traditional leadership models, such as transformational, relational, inspirational, and others, which advocate for an increased emphasis on such leadership functions in a virtual context.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Our article focuses on three main aspects of virtuality— technology dependence, geographic dispersion, and human capital—and identifies seven paradoxical tensions that virtual teams face. For example, one of the tensions that virtual teams experience due to their technology dependence is the touch tension: virtual team members’ interactions are simultaneously impersonal but also less biased. Practically, then, the role of the virtual team leader is to acknowledge and balance the two sides of this tension (and all other tensions their virtual team might face). Our article provides specific suggestions on how to tackle these paradoxical strains. Briefly, virtual leaders must first adopt a both-and mindset which would allow them to perceive virtuality through a paradox lens, and see both its challenges and its opportunities. Next, virtual leaders must devise strategies for simultaneously addressing competing demands. For example, in the case of the touch tension, a leader can encourage more personal and friendly communication, while at the same time implementing strategies to keep interactions professional.
Practically, then, our model suggests several applications. First, it suggests that organizations should select individuals for virtual leader assignments who are more likely to develop a synergistic leadership style. Second, organizations should train virtual leaders to reframe their assumptions about virtuality, seeing virtuality as a force to be harnessed, not feared. Finally, organizations should also instill a paradoxical view of virtuality in virtual team members, not just in virtual leaders, either through selection, or through training.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

In keeping with the core question that provoked this research—If virtuality is so bad, then why do organizations continue to “go virtual”?—our advice to virtuality scholars is to focus their efforts on better aligning our science with the practice of virtual work and virtual teaming. Describing just the challenges or just the opportunities of virtuality only tackles one side of this complex issue. In contrast, understanding the interdependencies between virtuality’s costs and benefits allows scholars to advance and test theories with a stronger grounding in reality, and allows organizations to truly harness the power of paradox.

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Utilizing Task Analysis to Identify Coordination Requirements in Three different Clinical Settings

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Sarah Henrickson Parker of Virginia Tech, Dr. Jan B. Schmutz of ETH Zürich, and Dr. Tanja Manser of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. They recently published an article in Group and Organization Management entitled “Training Needs for Adaptive Coordination: Utilizing Task Analysis to Identify Coordination Requirements in Three Different Clinical Settings” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Manser speaks about the motivation and challenges of this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

We were interested in understanding general principles of coordination in healthcare teams across different healthcare settings. All of the authors have conducted research in this area for quite some time but usually one study only allows us to study teams in a specific clinical setting. We were interested in seeing if there were any general principles that applied across clinical settings. If so, these could have a much larger impact on the training of healthcare professionals.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

As this was a secondary analysis of existing data, we each had our own challenges with the initial data collection. It is always fun, exciting and challenging to work with healthcare providers in both real and simulated settings. One exciting finding of the current study is the overlap in coordination requirements across clinical settings and tasks. Triggers for re-coordination, anchoring points for coordination, and a deliberate transition from implicit to explicit coordination during unexpected clinical situations were all consistently noted as exemplars of excellent team coordination.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

It is important to immerse yourself in the work context you are studying and to continue to build relationships with those that are doing the work. We believe that the interactions with healthcare providers allow us, as psychologists, to make sure our work is interpreted correctly from a scientific point of view but also relevant and used as intended from an applied point of view. Our experience this requires researchers to be able to speak the language of both clinical care and work psychology.

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The Relationships Between Stress, Drinking, and Complaints at Work

stress-2051408_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jeremy D. Mackey of Auburn University and Pamela L. Perrewé of Florida State University. They recently published an article in the Group and Organization Management entitled “The Relationships Between Hindrance Stressors, Problem Drinking, and Somatic Complaints at Work” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Mackey speaks about the motivation and challenges of this research:]

GOM_72ppiRGB_powerpointPam Perrewé and I were excited to publish our paper entitled “The Relationships between Hindrance Stressors, Problem Drinking, and Somatic Complaints at Work” in Group & Organization Management. We were motivated to conduct our study on the indirect effects of hindrance stressors on somatic complaints at work through problem drinking because we were interested in examining the impact of problem drinking on organizational stress processes. Our conceptualization of problem drinking examines alcohol consumption that is personally and/or socially harmful. Although problem drinking has been widely studied in psychology research, its effects have yet to be fully illuminated in organizational research. Thus, we sought to examine the effects of perceptions of workplace obstacles (i.e., hindrance stressors) on physiological strain (i.e., somatic complaints at work) through problem drinking. We hope our innovative conceptualization of problem drinking as a self-medication coping mechanism impacts research and practice by encouraging researchers and practitioners to examine the role of employees’ attempts to cope with organizational stress by engaging in problem drinking.

The most challenging aspect of conducting our study was how to appropriately examine problem drinking in organizational contexts. Problem drinking is a sensitive topic and there is little precedent for how to appropriately study it in organizational settings. Ultimately, we opted to examine employees’ frequencies of problem drinking because it was appropriate for our research question and study design. We recommend that other scholars who pursue this field of study consider the numerous ways of measuring problem drinking in order to choose appropriate ways to measure it for their research goals. For example, examining quantities of alcohol consumed, drinking to intoxication, the frequency/intensity of experienced hangovers, and problem drinking within the workplace all offer useful ways for future research to examine problem drinking and assess its effects on groups and organizations.

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Keeping Boomers Engaged and Millennials Committed in the Workplace

We’re pleased to highlight this Human Resource Development Review author feature. To view all other author features from HRDR, click here. Below, Dr. Chaudhuri and Dr. Ghosh provide further insight on their article, “Reverse Mentoring: A Social Exchange Tool for Keeping the Boomers Engaged and Millennials Committed,” that is found in Volume 11, Issue 1 of Human Resource Development Review.

1) Please share an overview of your article with our readers. The article titled, “Reverse Mentoring: A Social Exchange Tool for Keeping the Boomers Engaged and Millennial’s Committed” takes a positive perspective whereby the HRD professionals are encouraged to capitalize on the multi-generational workforce that they are gifted with instead of whining about the challenges that it poses. The article proposes reverse mentoring as a social exchange tool which is aimed at leveraging the expertise of both generations including the boomers and millennials, by being perceptive of their different needs, value systems, and work demands. Reverse Mentoring, which is a fairly new tentacle of mentoring is an inverted type of mentoring relationship, wherein junior employees are paired with senior, seasoned, and more experienced staff. Our article offers social exchange and age identification theory as the basic theoretical underpinnings that support the framework of reverse mentoring as a two way street. The mentoring relationship thrives on the mutual exchange between two generations—senior members of an organization will acquire new learnings in the areas of technology—mobile computing, social media, cloud technology, etc.—and work-life diversity, work-life balance, latest professional trends, changing consumer preferences,  and glean a more global perspective on the concepts of openness and diversity. The younger workforce will find in it an opportunity to hone their leadership skills and garner insights on organizational structure. This would eventually result in increased employee commitment and engagement for the millennials and the boomers.

2) How did you reach your interest in this topic? Being instructors at top-notch research universities, we were fortunate to interact with students of high caliber. While facilitating our courses, both of us encountered those AHA moments where our students were instrumental in helping us learn more advanced presentation skills including Prezi, Google HangOut, Google Talk, and the list could just go on. While we were fascinated with our exposure to these new tools, we were equally amazed to witness that there is so much more that these young kids can offer us with respect to new technology and their changing preferences of how they need to be taught to make it most effective for them. This led us to believe that if this relationship is formalized at a much higher level, typically in an organization setting – it can actually reap lot of benefits. Our curiosity led us to dig deeper into this new found intervention of reverse mentoring. What surprised us was the lack of literature in the area when we started researching it in 2011. While a few organizations are trying this intervention, academics have been still slow to jump into this bandwagon. Given the area was still very under researched, we found this an excellent opportunity to pursue.

3) How does your research connect with social responsibility? In 2015, the world witnessed a major demographic shift when the millennials became the largest share of the workforce. Based on the current trend, it is projected that in 2020 millennials will become half of the global workforce. With as many as 4 and in some cases 5 generations working side by side in the workplace, organizational leaders are confronted as never before with a growing generational gap, shifting expectations, as well as the constant need to stay on the cutting ‘digital’ edge.  As more and more senior executives are turning to their younger colleagues for insight and guidance, traditional mentoring is gradually shifting into reverse or reciprocal mentoring turning millennials into the must-have mentors for senior leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, the impending retirement of the boomers is resulting in a leadership gap and possible brain drain shortage. In view of this impending labor shortage resulting from the exodus of boomers, employers must find ways to keep these workers engaged post standard retirement ages. We proffer reverse mentoring as a socially responsible intervention which would keep the boomers engaged and the millennials committed.

4) How might a future scholar implement aspects of your research in their work? The extant literature is limited in its scope when it comes to the outcomes of the reverse mentoring relationship as it is a fairly new intervention. We would encourage future scholars to find organizations that have successfully implemented reverse mentoring. As the workforce continues to age and younger generations keep on joining the workforce, we would encourage future scholars to empirically test the propositions offered in this article about the work outcomes of a multigenerational workforce.

ChaudhuriS-2016.jpgDr. Chaudhuri is currently a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned her Ph.D. in human resource development. Her research interests are related to different aspects of human resource development practices and its impact on organizational outcomes including organizational commitment and employee engagement. Dr. Chaudhuri has conducted and published research studies on training outsourcing, work-life balance, cross-cultural leadership, and mentoring. Her co-authored research on ‘Reverse Mentoring’ has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Canadian Broadcasting, Financial Times, and one of the leading world news channels.

R. Ghosh (Release July 14, 2017).jpgDr. Ghosh is currently an associate professor at Drexel University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Louisville, and her MBA at the Somaiya Institute of Studies and Research in Mumbai. Dr. Ghosh’s focused research interests include mentoring and leader development, workplace incivility, and workplace learning and development. She has over twenty article publications in journals such as Advances in Developing Human Resources, the Journal of Management Development, and Career Development International.

Do Longer Working Hours Blur Work–Family Boundaries?

In today’s dynamic world, majority of boundary-spanning professionals like sales are expected to work for longer hours, regularly interacting with clients and, in several instances, o7817055290_8609020d49_z.jpgperating across various time zones which ultimately results in blurring work–family boundaries.

Sales is a key boundary-spanning function, which has central accountability in the organization and that is the reason why companies make huge investments on their sales force. Sales professionals are largely seen affected due to imbalances among individual, family and professional goals, which finally results in burnout. In addition, their work-related commitments require them to counter multiple demands from co-workers and customers, thereby resulting in role stress.

Work–family conflict is seen as having two distinct domains: work negatively affecting family, that is, WFC and family negatively affecting work, that is, FWC. Both WFC and FWC are bidirectional in nature and have distinct patterns of correlates. WFC is found to be far more rampant than FWC. The probable reason for the same could be that work boundaries are less permeable as compared to family boundaries which result in work negatively affecting family more as compared to family affecting work.

An article from the Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation aims to measure the ratio of work to family conflict (WFC) and family to work conflict (FWC) and also identify various demographic variables affecting the conflicts.

Register now to read the full article!

Abstract

In today’s dynamic world, majority of boundary-spanning professionals like sales are expected to work for longer hours, regularly interacting with clients and, in several instances, operating across various time zones which ultimately results in blurring work–family boundaries. The sample for the current study are sales employees as they are required to respond to various demands from colleagues, customers and from their respective families as well, which finally leads to conflict from both work and family. Of importance to the research is work–family construct measurement. The study first validated the Netemeyer, Boles and McMurrian (1996) work–family conflict scale in Indian context using exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. The results of the data analysis are in line with the indications in the literature. In addition, the current study attempted to investigate the role of demographic variables on work to family conflict (WFC) as well as family to work conflict (FWC). The sample consisted of 330 sales employees working across different service and manufacturing sectors in Mumbai, India. Results indicated that age, marital status, hierarchy, hours worked, number and ages of children are significantly associated with both WFC and FWC. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Click here to read Work–Family Conflict in India: Construct Validation and Current Status for free from the journal Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation.

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*Clock image attributed to Nick Wright. (CC)

Do Family-Friendly Programs Reduce Employee Turnover?

4329856959_d420346295_zHow can organization’s prevent employee turnover? The recent Public Personnel Management article “Does Satisfaction with Family-Friendly Programs Reduce Turnover? A Panel Study Conducted in U.S. Federal Agencies” from author James Gerard Caillier of University of Alabama suggests that the key to employee retention for an organization could be family-friendly programs. Programs like telework, alternative work schedules, child care subsidies, employee assistance programs, and other similar programs not only attract new talent, but help companies retain long-standing employees. The abstract for the paper:

This article sought to understand the association between employee satisfaction with several family-friendly programs and turnover in U.S. federal agencies. It also built on previous cross-sectional studies that examined the relationship between these benefits and both attitudes and outcomes. More specifically, this article used social exchange theory to develop hypotheses regarding the effect of telework, alternative work schedules, child care subsidies, elder care, employee assistance programs, and health and wellness programs on turnover. Furthermore, 4 years of panel data were Current Issue Coverobtained from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and FedScope to test the hypotheses. Consistent with social exchange theory, results from the balanced panel model indicate that satisfaction with family-friendly programs in general had a significant, negative effect on turnover. The results also indicate that telework, alternative work schedules, child care programs, and health and wellness programs reduced turnover. Telework, employee assistance programs, and health and wellness programs were significant at the .10 level. Elder care programs, on the other hand, were not found to have an impact on turnover. The implications the results have for theory and practice are discussed in the article.

You can read “Does Satisfaction with Family-Friendly Programs Reduce Turnover? A Panel Study Conducted in U.S. Federal Agencies” from Public Personnel Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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* Family image attributed to bniice (CC)

Do the Benefits of Work Engagement Extend Beyond the Office?

3925183530_4902bb6ae9_zStudies of work engagement and the associated positive outcomes tend to focus on the effects of engagement exclusively in the work realm, but do the benefits of work engagement extend beyond the office? In a recent Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies article entitled “The Work/Nonwork Spillover: The Enrichment Role of Work Engagement,” authors Liat Eldor, Itzhak Harpaz, and Mina Westman expand the scope of research on the effects of work engagement.

The abstract for the paper:

This study examines whether work engagement enriches employees beyond the JLOcontribution of the domain of work, focusing on satisfaction with life and community involvement. Moreover, the ambivalence of scholars about the added value of the work engagement concept compared with similar work-related attitudes prompted us to assess the benefits that work engagement offers with regard to improving one’s satisfaction with life and community involvement compared with the benefits of other, similar work-related attitudes such as job involvement and job satisfaction. Furthermore, given the studies indicating the impact of sector of employment (public vs. business) on understanding the work/nonwork nexus, the current study also investigates the effect of the sector of employment on this enrichment process. Utilizing multilevel modeling analysis techniques on data from 554 employees in public and business sector organizations, we obtained results consistent with our hypotheses. Work engagement and employees’ outcomes beyond work had positive and significant relationships. Moreover, the relationship between work engagement and community involvement was stronger in public sector employees than in business sector employees. The implications for organizational theory, research, and practice are discussed as possible leverage points for creating conditions that promote engagement at work and beyond.

You can read “The Work/Nonwork Spillover: The Enrichment Role of Work Engagement” from Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Picnic image attributed to Benson Kua (CC)