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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Geographically dispersed, or virtual, project teams are increasingly used to engage specialized knowledge at different locations. This is particularly true for complex and dynamic projects and process development. In such contexts, companies seek to leverage superior knowledge residing at different locations (e.g. technical knowledge, local market knowledge) through direct collaboration, partly relying on computer-mediated communication. Likewise, companies are staffing projects with individuals at different sites to capture favorable labor costs. This article starts with a more detailed discussion of the four characteristics of the work and task context of dispersed project teams, specifically highlighting the leadership challenges stemming from these characteristics. It then discusses how shared leadership in dispersed project teams drives their teamwork quality, arguing that shared leadership helps overcome the challenges of geographic dispersion, national diversity, electronic dependence, and task uncertainty.

Keywords: teamwork, dispersed projects, shared leadership, leadership challenges, geographic dispersion, national diversity, electronic dependence

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