This research project focuses on helping virtual teams (VT) achieve greater success through the management of virtual team polarities. Polarities are ongoing pairs that appear to be in opposition to each other, but in truth, they’re complimentary and interdependent.

Scientific Contribution:

  • This study uses a pretest-posttest control group research design to explore the role of leveraged polarities in virtual teams’ effectiveness. To date, no such studies appear in the literature.
  • Our findings show that teams who understand and are able to leverage polarities achieve and maintain greater effectiveness over time.
  • We demonstrate the effectiveness of a paradox training intervention, and in doing so, we offer insights on how to better leverage paradoxes and shift the perception of paradoxes from a seemingly impossible tension towards an important opportunity to manage.
  • This study includes a multidimensional conceptual measure of virtuality that spans multidisciplinary literature. It makes a theoretical contribution to the conceptualization of virtuality that should be a part of future research.
  • Our sample is a very robust non-student group. The sample includes 140 teams from 56 for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations from a wide variety of industries (e.g., manufacturing, education, technology, food/beverage, healthcare, philanthropy/humanitarian aid) and geographic regions (e.g., Asia, Oceania, Africa, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, South America, North America).

Application to Leadership Challenges:

  • VT are the fastest growing work structure across the globe, and are characterized by their constant use of information and communication technology. Research shows that VT are exceedingly difficult to manage, and some experts suggest that more VTs fail than succeed. The lack of VT success is attributed to challenges associated with working at a distance. Leverage polarities is a key to higher levels of performance.
  • VT who leverage polarities experience other team benefits—commitment, satisfaction, viability, and informal learning.
  • Our training helped some teams improve their outcomes by over 50%, whereas on average teams improved their outcomes by a more modest 2 – 5%.
  • Polarity perspective taking skill applies to all parts of organizational life, not just to VT.

Connect With Our Team:

Contact Jean Leslie to learn more.