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Research Article The Role of Leadership and Contextualization on Citizenship Behaviors in Distributed Teams: A Relational Capital Perspective

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2 Author(s)
Xiqing Sha ; Dept. of Inf. Syst., Nat. Univ. of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore ; Chang, K.T.

Research problem: This study provides insights into the role that a leader plays in improving relational capital, thereby motivating team members' citizenship behaviors in distributed teams. We address the following research questions: (1) What is the role of inspirational leadership in cultivating relational capital (i.e., reciprocity and commitment) in distributed teams? (2) Are team members' citizenship behaviors (i.e., knowledge sharing and interpersonal helping) influenced by relational capital in distributed teams? (3) How does technology support for cognitive and affective contextualization facilitate leaders to improve organizational communication? Literature review: The purpose of the review was to provide a theoretical background for the variables in this study. Based on the relevant theories on relational capital, leadership, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and contextualization, this study reviewed how previous studies link these theories to one other, and proposed the positive relationship between leadership, relational capital and OCBs, as well as the moderating relationships of technology support for contextualization. Methodology: The researchers conducted a quantitative survey with 141 respondents in a major university in Asia. The subjects were part-time graduate students pursuing their master's degree. Researchers administrated a paper-based questionnaire along with a cover letter explaining the study's objectives. Responses indicating teams that were situated in only one location and their role as team leaders were removed from the analyses. Participation was completely voluntary. The researchers chose partial least squares to test the hypotheses since it has fewer restrictive assumptions and its ability for analyzing measurement and structural models. Results and discussion: This study highlights the importance of inspirational leaders in cultivating two kinds of relational capital, namely commitment and reciprocity. This study al- o explores the differential values of contextual information from the cognitive and affective dimensions. A key result is that the effect of inspirational leadership on reciprocity is strengthened when there is technology support for cognitive contextualization. At the same time, technology support for affective contextualization has a direct impact on commitment. These findings provide empirical support for affective and cognitive contextualization in distributed organizational communication, and suggest a way for distinguishing between reciprocity and commitment. This study concludes by illustrating the positive effects of commitment on citizenship behaviors, such as knowledge sharing and interpersonal helping. The implication of this study is that when teams are physically dispersed, there should be more emphasis on leadership with inspirational attributes to get their team members to perform beyond standard requirements. In addition, this study provides leaders and organizations with an opportunity to reflect on the appropriate technology that can be adopted to compensate for insufficient communication. The limitation of this study is that each respondent represents his/her working team. As a result, it may introduce bias to the findings. In addition, self-reported measures may also cause common method bias. Future research could consider the addition of objective measures and longitudinal work to reduce the possibility of common method bias, and investigate how work behaviors change over time.

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 4 )