Typology on Leadership toward Creativity in Virtual Work

Iris A Humala
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 12  •  2017  •  pp. 209-243
Aim/Purpose: This study aims to develop a descriptive typology to better identify leadership toward creativity in virtual work in different types of companies.

Background: The study empirically explores how leadership toward creativity occurs in virtual work and uses the theoretical lenses of creativity-conducive leadership and heterarchy to generate a typology.

Methodology : A multiple qualitative case study design, interpretivist approach, and abductive analysis are applied. Data is collected by interviewing 21 leaders and employees face-to-face in four companies in the ICT sector and one business advisor company.

Contribution: The empirical evidence of this study enriches the understanding of leadership toward creativity in virtual work and contributes to the limited empirical knowledge on leadership that stimulates a virtual workforce to achieve creativity.

Findings: The four different types of companies in the typology utilize various transitions toward leadership creativity in virtual work. The trend in leadership in the existing virtually networked business environment is toward the “collective mind” company, which is characterized by shared values, meaningful work, collective intelligence, conscious reflection, transparency, coaching, empowering leadership by example, effective multichannel interaction, and assertiveness. The findings empirically support applying a heterarchy perspective to lead a virtual workforce toward creativity and promote leaders who are genuinely interested in people, their development, collaboration, and technology.

Recommendations for Practitioners: The typology helps professionals realize the need to develop leadership, communication, interaction, learning, and growth to foster creative interaction and improve productivity and competitiveness.

Recommendation for Researchers: This study enables researchers to more rigorously and creatively conceptualize the conditions and relationships in leadership that facilitate creativity in virtual work.

Impact on Society : The findings highlight humanistic values for developing leadership. The study strengthens the view that collective creativity in virtual work cannot emerge without virtual and physical interaction in appropriate spaces and caring for each other.

Future Research: Future studies may focus on other fields, industries, networks, roles of materialities, and employees in fostering creativity and on theory development. Longitudinal studies are advisable.
virtual work, creativity, leadership, typology, heterarchy
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