Charismatic Leadership in Virtual Teams. The Business Process Outsourcing Sector in Sri Lanka

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2018

213 Pages, Grade: 4.1



List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations



1.1. Background
1.2. Research Gap
1.2.1. Theoretical Gap
1.2.2. Empirical Gap
1.2.3. Methodological Gap
1.3 Problem Statement
1.4. Research Questions
1.5. Objectives of the Study
1.6. Purpose of the Study
1.7. Significance of the Study
1.8. Methodology of the Study
1.8.1. Sequential Exploratory Design
1.8.2. Data Collection and Data Collection Instrument
1.9. Scope of the Study
1.10. Organization of the Chapters

2.1. Introduction
2.2. Leadership
2.3. The Concept of Charisma
2.4. Charismatic Leadership
2.5. The Main Theoretical Foundation - Attribution Theory of Charismatic Leadership
2.6. Development of Theories of Charismatic Leadership
2.7. Consequences of Charismatic Leadership
2.8. Charismatic Leadership Traits and Behaviors
2.9. Defining Virtuality
2.10. Virtual Teams
2.11. Effectiveness of Virtual Teams
2.12. Different Models of Virtual Teams
2.13. Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Teams
2.14. Leadership in Virtual Teams
2.15. Business Process Outsourcing Industry in Sri Lanka
2.16. Chapter Summary

3.1. Introduction
3.2. Research Framework
3.3. Research Philosophy
3.3.1. Rationale for Selecting Pragmatism as the World View for this Study
3.4. Method of Inquiry/Research Method
3.4.1. Rationale for Selecting the Mixed-Method Research
3.4.2. Purpose of Mixing Research Methods
3.5. Mixed Method Designs
3.6. Phase One - Quantitative Phase
3.6.1. Methods of Data Collection
3.6.2. Nature of the Survey Method
3.6.3. Form of Data Collection
3.6.4. The Population and Sample
3.6.5. Sampling Method
3.6.6. Sample Size
3.6.7. Instrumentation
3.6.8. Validity and Reliability of the Instruments
3.6.9. Administrating the Survey
3.6.10. Variables in the Study
3.6.11. Data Analysis
3.6.12 Data Analysis Techniques
3.7. Phase Two - Qualitative Phase
3.7.1. Basic Characteristics of Qualitative Phase of the Study
3.7.2. The Researcher’s Role
3.7.3. Study Population
3.7.4. The Selection Criteria for the Interviews
3.7.5. Sampling and Sample Size
3.7.6. Interview Instrument, Reliability and Validity
3.7.7. Qualitative data collection
3.7.8. Focused Group Interviews
3.7.9. Data Analysis and Interpretation
3.8. Chapter Summary

4.1. Introduction
4.2. An Overview of the Study Objectives
4.3. Analysis of the First Phase - Quantitative Phase
4.3.1. Sample Profile
4.3.2. Data Screening
4.3.3. Descriptive Data Analysis
4.3.4. Exploratory Factor Analysis
4.3.5. Exploratory Factor Analysis for Charismatic Leadership
4.3.6. Confirmatory Factor Analysis
4.3.7. Confirmatory Factor Analysis for Charismatic Leadership
4.4. Analysis of the Second Phase - Qualitative Phase
4.4.1. Profile of the Sample Group
4.4.2. Analysis of Interview data
4.5. Triangulation of Data
4.6. Ethical Consideration
4.7. Chapter Summary

5.1. Introduction
5.2. Summary of Findings
5.3. Contribution
5.3.1. Contribution to the Knowledge
5.3.2. Methodological Contributions
5.4. Implications of the Study
5.4.1. Implication for Corporate Image
5.4.2. Implications for Recruiting, Selecting and Assessing Leadership
5.4.3. Implication for Management Training Development
5.4.4. Implications for Leadership Education
5.5. Limitations of the study
5.6. Suggestions for further research
5.7. Overall Conclusion
5.8. Chapter Summary


Appendix I The Study of Virtuality in Teams of BPO Sector in Sri Lanka

Appendix II Questionnaire

Appendix III Interview Guide

Appendix IV Data Analysis Outputs

Appendix V List of BPO Companies

Appendix V Letter of Permission to use the questionnaire


I certify that this thesis does not incorporate, any material previously submitted for a degree or diploma in any university without acknowledgement and to the best of my knowledge and belief this does not contain any material previously published or written by another person, except where due reference is made to it in the text. ULTP Gunasekare. FGE/02/01/02/2013/02 November 12, 2018

List of Tables

Table 1.1. Mixed Methods Design Classifications

Table 1.2. Types of Designs by Four Criteria

Table 3.2. Cronbatch Alpha for CK Scale

Table 3.3. Variables with dimensions and Research Question Item on Survey Instrument

Table 3.4. Response Rate

Table 3.5. Seven Strategies for Combating Threats to Validity in Qualitative Research

Table 4.1. Sample Characteristics

Table 4.2. Tests of Normality- Charismatic Leadership

Table 4.3. Collinearity statistics - Charismatic Leadership

Table 4.4. Descriptive Statistics - Charismatic Leadership

Table 4.5. KMO and Bartlett's Test - Charismatic Leadership

Table 4.6. Total Variance Explained

Table 4.7. Rotated Component Matrix

Table 4.8. Naming the Factors - Charismatic Leadership

Table 4.9. Model Diagnostics in Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Table 4.10. Assessment of Goodness of Fit

Table 4.11. Model Fit Information

Table 4.12. Factor Loadings of Best fit Model

Table 4.13. Demographic Data of the Interviewees

Table 4.14. Common Themes of Charismatic Leadership Behaviors

Table 4.15. Triangulation of Quantitative Findings and the Qualitative Findings

Table 5.1. Existing Model Charismatic Leadership and the Proposed Model of Charismatic Leadership

List of Figures

Figure 3.1 Research framework for the study

Figure 3.2 Mixed method designs

Figure 3.3 Exploratory Sequential design

Figure 4.1 Charismatic leadership behaviors of virtual team leaders

Figure 4.2: Scree Plot-Charismatic Leadership

Figure 4.3: Initial Hypnotized Model

Figure 4.4: The Best Fit Model

Figure 5.1 Proposed Model of Virtual Charismatic Leadership

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri, Director, Postgraduate Institute of Management for the patient guidance, encouragement and advice he has provided throughout this period as his student. I have been extremely lucky to have a supervisor who cared so much about my work, and who responded to my questions and queries so promptly.

I would also like to thank all the members of staff at Faculty of Commerce and Management Studies, University of Kelaniya who helped me in providing suggestions in numerous discussions I had for collecting ideas on matters of interest. Prof. A. Jayamaha, Dean of Faculty of Graduate Studies and the staff members including Mr. Lakmal, Senior Assistant Registrar, also deserve thanks for helping me.

Completing this work would have been difficult if there was not the support and friendship provided by Chair Prof. Chitra Ranjani, Senior Prof. E.G.Ubechandra, Dilrukshi, Ganga and Suseema. Their constructive questioning and encouragements made this task fine-tuned.

I must express my gratitude to Preethi, my husband, for his continued support and encouragement. I was continually amazed by the patience of my mother, who experienced all of the ups and downs during this period. My three kids Senadi, Kushalya and Yasindu missed their time of affection due to my hectic schedules.

I am indebted to the students of MBA programme, Kelaniya for their help in collecting data and making connections for collecting data from BPO companies. U.L.T.P. Gunasekare.


The Leadership is central to the human conditions and has found to be important to all societies. With ICT advancements, technology driven changes created new paradigms of work, proposing new unfilled research gaps to the leadership researchers. Current study focused on charismatic leadership in virtual context and aimed to envisage new profile of virtual charismatic leadership behaviors and a new definition for virtual charismatic leader.

Charismatic leadership model developed by Conger and Kanungo (1988) is the main theoretical framework for building the research argument. The objective of the study was to explore the specific charismatic behavioral characteristics in leaders of virtual teams. Sri Lankan BPO sector was selected as the study setting and primarily tested its virtuality using virtuality index. The study is a mixed method research study and followed sequential exploratory mixed method design. The quantitative data were collected by survey method using C-K scale and qualitative data collection was based on in-depth interviews and focused group discussions based on the questionnaire draws from the C-K scale. Factor analysis was employed to capture the behavioral characteristics of virtual charismatic leaders. Further the study found that charismatic leadership behaviors were present in the team leaders in BPO companies. Factor Analysis created new array of factors to describe the charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual context.

The major contribution of this study emphasized a new set of charismatic leadership behaviors presence in leaders of virtual teams. A new model of virtual charismatic leadership was developed including seven behavioral characteristics. By comparing the charismatic behaviors of Conger and Kanungo (1998) model and the proposed model, it was able to discover three behaviors that are unique to virtual setting, to put forward the originality of the study. They are building thrust in followers, adaptive behavior, and dealing with diversity. This study added new dimensions to charismatic leadership and proposed as an extension to the existing model of charismatic leadership of Conger and Kanungo (1998). Next, a detail behavioral profile of virtual charismatic leaders was developed. In addition to that a concise conceptualization of virtual charismatic leadership was also given to enrich the literature on leadership. The contribution to the knowledge and the implications were also elaborated, followed by the future research directions.

Key Words: Charismatic Leadership, Virtuality, CK scale, Virtual Charismatic Leadership Behaviors


l.l. Background

Electronic revolution has changed the world in various ways. Especially in recent years, activities in all types of organizations have become increasingly more global, competition from both foreign and domestic sources has grown dramatically, and there has been a continued shift from production to service/knowledge-based work environments (Townsend et al., 1998). Advances in information and communication technology have enabled a faster pace of changes than in the past and have created jobs that are increasingly more complex and dynamic.

The old structure of organizations is not adaptable any more. The high rate of globalization and rapid changes necessitate a business structure which can use these conditions in the best way. The new market needs a constant reaction and a continuous adaptation which is one of the competitive indices. Those organizations are successful in the modern market, which can utilize modern experts, technology and knowledge. In this senario approaches such as minimizing, centralization, re-engineering is of great value for modern organization.

In response to these changes, organizational systems, structures, and processes have evolved to become more flexible and adaptive. Horizontal organizational structures and team-based work units have become more prevalent, and with advances in internet technology there is an increasing emphasis on geographically distributed “virtual” teams as organizing units of work.

Virtual teams are “the groups of geographically and /or organizationally dispersed co-workers that are assembled using a combination of telecommunications and information technologies to accomplish an organizational task” (Malhotra et al., 2007). These modern types of organizations that confirm new and remarkable development of information technology are expected to decrease the amount of complexity and extension of operations to shorten the period of response, and to develop flexibility in business activities.

The term “virtual organization” has been used and widely defined in the management literature since 1990. The major feature of this organization is flexibility. Virtual teams are the major systems of these organizations, which are considered as the most important part of the organizations today.

With growing number of virtual teams in the business world, interest in this area, not only of practitioners but also of the researchers grew. Virtual teams concept is a highly searched topic with over 500 000 hits on Google, 27 000 hits in Google Scholar and 4 000 hits in Web of Science for “virtual team” as of August 2014 (Gilson, et al, 2014). Further, virtual teams have emerged as a powerful structure in the contemporary business environment, and are characterized by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), radical changes in organizational design, and the deployment of a multicultural workforce (Gilson et al, 2014; Greenberg et al., 2007). A virtual team can deliver large strategic, operational or commercial projects involving various concurrent and sequential activities by team members across various geographical localities (Lee-Kelley & Shanky, 2008). Virtual team formation has also been found useful for enabling organizations to pool the talents of their own employees, and employees of trading partners to meet the demands of today’s competitive global environment (Gibson et al, 2014).

Due to this advent of virtual technologies, the landscape of leadership literature has been placed a new demand for leadership behaviors in virtual teams. Research on effective leadership for these business models have grown tremendously, with two popular areas, being leader behaviors and traits. It has examined inspirational as well as transformational and transactional leaders (Huang, Kahai, & Jestice, 2010; Strang, 2011). As such leadership researchers started inquiring effective leadership behaviors in virtual settings. Leadership in these organization are needed to be change capable within this dynamic states. ICT revolution is creating new trends and changes to the way the business models and structures are operating. And due to these mega trends in the virtual business world, leadership researchers are in progress of conceptualizing change capable leaders or leadership styles (Kayworth & Leidner, 2002) to these business structures. Thus, motivation for this research arises due to this unknown area about right leadership behaviors to these new business structures.

Leadership studies go back to between 400BC and 300BC. The Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle wrote about leadership and its requirements, characteristics, and education (Pepper, 2003). They said that leadership is about knowledge, skills and abiliies for transformation. Further it is accecpted that leadership is central to the human conditions (Wren, 1995) and has found to be important to all societies, although specific patterns of behavior vary overtime and across cultures (Bass, 1990). Numerous studies, books and articles have appraised the role of leadership and its importance in different organizational contexts. Leadership is a critical factor for the success or failure of an organization. Different theoretical approaches have been employed in order to shed light upon this phenomenon and various terms have been attributed to leadership so far.

Since the early 1980s, "New Leadership" approaches have drawn considerable attention in organizational research (Bass, 1999; Bryman, 1996; Hunt, 1999), including closely related concepts such as charismatic leadership (e.g., Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977), transformational leadership (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978; Tichy & Ulrich, 1984), and visionary leadership (e.g., Sashkin, 1988). Scholars have argued that even though these differing approaches specify somewhat different leadership behaviors, they are nevertheless complementary to a great extent and exhibit significant overlap.

As House and Shamir (1993) noted, for instance, all of these approaches either explicitly or implicitly describe leaders' charisma as a central concept. (House & Aditya, 1997). Specifically, charisma includes leadership behaviors to leaders acting as role models for their followers, fostering the acceptance of group goals, and motivating followers to contribute to the achievement of common aspirations (Bass, 1985; House, 1977; Podsakoff, et al, 1990; Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993).

Charismatic leaders display a sense of power and confidence and make bold, unconventional, and counter normative decisions (Avolio & Bass, 1988; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; 1994; Shamir et al., 1993). They develop an intriguing, ideological vision of the future and present it in an emotionally captivating manner, expressing their confidence that common aspirations can be achieved through collective efforts (Awamleh & Gardner, 1999; Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977; Sashkin, 1988; Shamir et al., 1993). Because of this outstanding nature of charismatic leaders, ample research have been conducted on this phenomena.

The research has accumulated impressive empirical evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of charismatic leadership behaviors, as indicated in several meta-analyses (Dumdum, Lowe, & Avolio, 2002; Fuller & Patterson, 1996; Judge & Piccolo, 2004; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996). Charismatic and transformational leaders have been shown, for instance, to strengthen followers' satisfaction (Hater & Bass, 1988), motivation, trust, and identification (Shamir, Zakay, Breinin, & Popper, 1998), contributing to followers' performance (Conger, Kanungo, & Menon, 2000; Howell & Frost, 1989; McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002) and to their organizations' financial success (Waldman, Javidan & Varella, 2004; Waldman, Ramirez, House, & Puranam, 2001).

The work originating with in the GLOBE Research project examined implicit theories of leadership across cultures. (i.e.,individual perception of leadership effectivenes). Findings indicated that a) charismatic leadership and team oriented leadership styles are universally endosed, b) humane and participative styles are nearly universaly endosedand c) self protective and autonomus styles are culturally contingent (House et al.,1999). These researchers also indentified 21 leader atributes and behaviors that are universally viewed as contrbuting to effective team leadership, many of them falling under the global diamention of charismatic leadership. So this further evident that charismatic leadership is still significant to study as a prominant leadership style which has received critical attention of many research studies.

Again, several scholars have advanced this theory of charismatic leadership by adding perspectives that invoke the concept of charismatic leadership towards different directions. (Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977; Trice & Beyer, 1986). But with the changes that taking place in the contemporary environment, charismatic leadership related theories have been subjected to substantial empirical investigation in different organizational circumstances.

In a global marketplace, more and more companies need international presence, therefore the need for creating virtual teams exists. By dynamically allocating people to projects, based on expertise rather than location, organizations can assign the most qualified people to appropriate projects without concern for the expense and wasted productivity caused by travel or frequent relocation.

In Sri Lanka the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is rising rapidly enlisting a greater impact to the economy via handling various types of business activities outsourced by some other company. In today’s context, there is a great trend for BPO. There is a great demand for companies who do the back office functions and other IT related services. Most of the US and European companies made vast expansions by outsourcing there non-core business functions to Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, China and Philippines. Compared to other countries Sri Lanka has an advantage, because of relatively low labor costs. It has less competitive pressure to be selected as an outsource designation (Milne 2007). Further relating to Information Technology (IT), Sri Lanka has built up valuable brand equity in the global markets. Sri Lanka has emerged as the most preferred destination for BPO, a key driver of growth for the software industry and the services sector (Sandagomi & Dasanayaka, 2003). Within this industry people work with multiple teams distributed over different geographical locations. They work across major time zone differences, across internal business units, and across cultures. Some participants in these teams may never meet face-to-face, yet they are working in effective teams (Sandagomi & Dasanayaka, 2003). Although the functioning of BPO companies seems to be virtual by nature it is obligatory to examine how “virtual” the BPO companies really? Thus this study initiall y addresses this question to check the virtuality of BPO companies in Sri Lanka.

Secondly, as BPO companies has rapidly grown in Sri Lanka and it is significant to study about the dynamics of these teams operating in these companies and their behaviors and systems. Sri Lanka's most prized resource in today's knowledge economy is its readily available knowledge work force. Sri Lanka has the second largest English-speaking scientific professionals in the world, second only to the U.S (Kumara, 2007). When BPO companies are concerned, the team leadership is usually seen as the distance, electronic or virtual leadership. The team leader in such companies is assigned the position of leadership with team members for an identified assignment and should not only act as a coordinator among team members but also be facilitator to the team, and its stakeholders. These team leaders play the leadership role integrating human being with information communication technology (Kumara, 2007).

In these dispersed settings, the leader may have the potential to “replace” the physical, social, and psychological distance of team membership and shape attitudes directed at the team through his distinct capabilities. (Avolio et al. 2000, Bell & Kozlowski 2002, Kayworth & Leidner 2002). Thus, developing effective leadership behaviors may be crucial for these teams. Many researchers have found that team leaders play a very important role in the effective functioning of virtual teams (Hiltz & Turoff, 1976, 1985; Hiltz, Dufner, Holmes, & Poole, 1991). Some researchers believe that effective leadership is often significant and pivotal to the individual level and team level performance. (Fiedler, 1967; Stott & Walker, 1995).

Thus, the study of leadership style of virtual teams definitely significant, because the effectiveness of virtual teams depend on its leadership styles. Therefore with the above background, it is justified to choose charismatic leadership as the imperative factor in studying virtual teams.

The research problem is being formulated on the basis of above background. With the qualitative and quantitative inquary the study tried to come to a closing answer to the statement of research problem.

1.2. Research Gap

1.2.1. Theoretical Gap

There is a knowledge gap pertaining to this area due to following reasons. First in the book chapter “Transformational and Charismatic Leadership” by John Antonakis (2012) stated as follows:

“What is clear from the review of literature on charismatic leadership is that even though research in transformational and charismatic leadership is mature, there is still much to be done; just like in the medical sciences, where researchers constantly update treatments for diseases, so too must we find better measures and better inter-ventions in charismatic leadership. To recap, there is a need for (a) more longitudinal and multilevel research, (b) the development of more inclusive and less biased questionnaire measures, (c) the development of objective leadership measures, and (d) a fuller understanding of process models that also consider effects in different context and individual different antecedents.”

In addition to that Conger and Konungo (1998) wrote, “We know almost nothing about the different contextual influences for charismatic leadership.” These statements clearly justifies that there is a room in the body of leadership knowledge to be filled specially in the area of charismatic leadership in different contexts with which this study addressed.

Second, a rich body of research in the area of leadership has examined the influence of charismatic forms of leadership on employees’ motivation, attitudes, and behaviors in co-located teams. (Bass 1985, Conger & Kanungo 1998, House 1971, House et al. 1991, Podaskoff et al. 1990). Virtual context is another area in which the studies could be concentrated on, arguing that charismatic leadership varies with context. The researchers often did not consider virtual context as a key variable. Thus this study contributes the body of knowledge by highlighting the charismatic leadership in virtual leaders that can foster attitudes that are critical for team effectiveness in geographically dispersed settings.

Thirdly, ample literature exists on the topics of charismatic leadership and virtual teams independently; however, little is available with respect to dealing with virtual teams and charismatic leadership simultaneously. Even though scholars have learned a lot about the benefits of charisma in leadership and have started to investigate the limitations and challenges in virtual teams, but relatively little is known about the development of these two concepts together to understand the link between the charisma and virtual leadership. (Bruch, Vogel, & Krummaker, 2006). Most of the researchers focused their attention on these two concepts (charisma and virtual leadership) separately, and it has created a gap in the literature and inspired to study charismatic leadership and the role of charisma in virtual teams simultaneously.

As the fourth, the context in which followers participate is generally important aspect within which charismatic leadership develops, and has proposed that the contextual perspective is a viable way to gain some insight into how the charismatic appeal of a given leader may be diffused and dispersed among a group of followers (Rothacker & Hauer, 2014). Charisma and virtuality, having typically been treated as predictors for various outcome variables (Bruch et al., 2005; Judge & Piccolo, 2004; Lowe et al., 1996), both theorizing and research have generally neglected the role of charisma in virtual teams as antecedents of virtual team performance.

In the mid -1980s to late 1990s, during which the advent of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in organizations virtual teams were touted as a precursor to increased organizational democratization, decentralization and overall efficiency. (Dutton, 1999). With certainty it can be stated that firms are now acquiring more virtual characteristics than they had in the past. The use of a computer for communication purposes in general, has become an integral part of organizational processes across a broad range of sectors. Both theory and practical experience suggest that these developments do not render leaders obsolete, but on the contrary it pose a fundamental challenge to conventional landscape of leadership in collocated teams and emerge as a concept of virtual leadership in the virtual team. Although some research on virtual leadership styles is emerging, there is still a need for research assessing how certain leadership styles like charismatic leadership style interact with virtuality that affects team member behaviors. Emergence of virtual work as a very much popular work arrangement during this technological era has not fully been addressed by the researchers. Similarly, most of the books wrote on leadership, fail to recognize that the leadership construct in the virtual setting. This study tries to address this gap also.

For the above reasons, further study is warranted in assessing charismatic leadership in virtual teams.

1.2.2. Empirical Gap

The study of leadership is increasingly collaborative because it is precisely the kind of complex problem. So, this study examined a relatively new but growing area of leadership that the nature of leadership in modern organizations due to the dynamics of the workplace. The new work arrangement involves leading a workforce virtually, in that more frequently workers are physically dispersed away from the leader and fellow workers. Then second issue is related to the modern leadership thinking, which emerged in New Leadership Era more than ever before. Numerous literature exists on these two topics, charisma and virtual leadership tested empirically and independently; little is available with respect to testing these two phenomena empirically, charismatic leadership behaviors in the light of virtuality simultaneously.

According to Conger-Kanungo, since the 1980’s there has mounting interest in the topic of charismatic leadership and theories have been developed that are more in depth and comprehensive using empirical studies still there are some important issues that remain unaddressed. More research is required to further validate the theory and, there needs to be some investigation on the casual link between leader behaviors and follower effect. Further, the current studies do not address research involving team leaders in virtual teams.

Virtual teams which are functioning in Sri Lankan BPO companies are not well explored empirically and it caused the researcher to articulate empirical gap of this study.

In Sri Lanka, leadership research studies are limited and it is very rare to find specially leadership studies focusing on charisma. Further, this area has not given sufficient attention by the researchers in Sri Lanka yet.

Because of all the above reasons of empirical gap, this research attempted to explore the charismatic leadership in virtual teams.

1.2.3. Methodological Gap.

In the last decade, growing number of empirical investigations of charismatic leadership in organizations have been conducted. These studies relied on a variety of research methods, including case studies (Roberts 1985, Roberts & Bradley 1988), longitudinal observational studies (Trice & Beyer 1986), numerous field surveys (Smith 1982; Yukl & Van Fleet 1982; Hater & Bass 1988; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman & Fetter 1990), an analysis of behavior in a management game (Avolio, Waldman, & Einstein 1988), rigorous laboratory experiments (Howell & Frost 1989: Kirkpatrick 1992 : Puffer 1990), an interpretative analysis of interviews (Bennis & Nanus 1985), a rigorous content analysis of interviews (Howell & Higgins 1990), analysis of historical archival information (House, Spangler & Woycke 1991), and longitudinal analyses of the effects of leader behavior on U.S. Air Force Academy cadets (Curphy 1990, Koene et al. 1991, Howell & Avolio 1993, Waldman & Ramirez 1993).

These studies were conducted across a wide variety of samples, including students who served as laboratory subjects (Howell & Frost 1989, Kirkpatrick 1992: Puffer 1990), military combat and noncombat leaders (Yukl & Van Fleet 1982, Curphy, 1990), numerous samples of middle and lower level managers (Smith 1982, Avolio & Bass 1987, Waldman et al. 1987, Bass &Yammarino 1988, Hater & Bass, 1988), world class leaders of nations (Bass, Avolio & Goodheim 1987) educational leaders (Roberts 1985, Roberts & Bradley, 1988, Sashkin, 1988), Asian Indian middle managers (Pereria,1987) top level corporate leaders (Bennis & Nanus, 1985), U.S. presidents (House, Spangler, & Woycke, 1991), Dutch supermarket managers (Koene et al. 1991), educational administrators in Singapore (Koh et al., 1991), and emergent informal project champions (Howell & Higgins, 1990). (Shamir, House, Michael & Arthur, 1993)

Apart from above, in the New Leadership Studies, most research is conducted on very senior leaders often chief executive officers rather than lower or middle level managers such as supervisors, sergeants, middle managers, foremen and sports coaches, as in the Ohio and Fiedler research. Further, unlike the three earlier stages of leadership research, quite minimum use is made of qualitative case studies. Some writers, like Bennis & Nanus (1985) and Tichy & Devanna (1986), employed informal, semi-structured interviews as their chief source of data, others like Westley and Mintzberg (1989) employed documentary evidence. But the use of such methods represents a substantial methodological shift from the quantitative studies that were typical of earlier phases of leadership research. However, a stream of highly influential research inaugurated by Bass (1985) and Kouzes and Posner (1993) includes leaders at lower levels in their study and used quantitative approach. This shows that very few efforts have been made in leadership research using qualitative approach as the methodology and further it is rarely found that use of mixed research method as the research methodology in the new leadership research arena.

More over most of the studies were done on virtual team performance have used student samples (Gilson et al, 2015) rather than workers and relatively little is yet known about such leadership and the process by which leaders influence followers in virtual groups (Martins, Gilson & Maynard, 2004).

The above situation clearly shows the methodological gap in the area of virtual leadership. Thus by bridging above mentioned gaps, it can be emphasized the originality of this effort lies in being one of the initial efforts of exploring charismatic leadership behaviors in the context of virtual setting and conceptualize virtual charismatic leadership via developing a virtual charismatic profile.

1.3 Problem Statement

There are many people related obstacles still have to overcome in virtual teams, even though they are using collaborative technologies effectively (Hightower & Lutfus, 1996). Among these factors leadership styles (Kayworth & Leidner, 2001/2002) and cultural differences (Sarker & Sahay, 2003) may impact the effectiveness of virtual team behaviors and finally the team performance. Fjermestad and Hiltz (1999) found that in small groups in virtual setting, team leaders are critical to team effectiveness.

In traditional organizations and teams, most of their members use face-to-face meetings to solve problems (Ocker, 2005). Scholars of “traditional behavioral school” believed that in face-to-face situations, leadership styles can be classified into transactional and transformational and charismatic leadership (Burns, 1978).

Burns believed that charismatic leadership is more effective than transactional leadership or transformational leadership. They, at the operational level in particular, often set meaningful mission and objectives for their subordinates, try to establish mutual trust and commitments with them, enhance subordinates technical and other required skills, and provide opportunities for subordinates (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; Wade et al., 1996). They can also build and develop relationships among team members and to increase mutual trusts that are critical to team performance (Duttweiler, 1981).

Charismatic leaders serve as symbols of success and accomplishment. They make others enthusiastic about assignments, command respect, and have a sense of purpose. Subordinates have faith in charismatic leaders and are proud to be associated with a leader whom they trust to overcome any obstacle. Charismatic leaders instills pride, faith, and respect among subordinates.

Virtual teams have emerged in order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s business environment such as globalization and market competitiveness (Cascio, 2000). Leadership in virtual teams is critical due to its dynamic nature. The environmental demands often require virtual teams to transcend the boundaries (Kraut et al., 1999) and to engage in flexible organizational processes.

Therefore it is precise that charismatic leadership behaviors can make an outstanding impact on virtual teams. It is suggested that more attention or more investigation are required to identify the charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual teams which is rarely captured area by the researchers. This situation calls for the study of charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual teams as a vital inquiry to the leadership literature.

By considering the above background, the study aims to explore the charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual teams in Sri Lankan BPO sector. Therefore the problem statement of this study is, what charismatic leadership behaviors are presence in leaders of virtual teams?

The focus of this study is aiming at the most fast growing and booming industry in Sri Lanka, which is necessary to provide increased attention of the business researchers. By answering the questions stated in research questions, the study fulfils the identified gaps and shed new light on the areas of charismatic leadership and virtual team management literature.

1.4. Research Questions

Research questions are derived from the above problem statement. In carrying out this study following questions are answered.

1. What are the specific charismatic behavioral characteristics presented in leaders of virtual teams in Sri Lankan BPO sector?
2. What is the perceived virtual charismatic leadership profile represented in virtual team leaders?
3. How to conceptualize the virtual charismatic leadership?

In answering these research questions, the study primarily carried out “virtuality test” to ensure that the teams in BPO sector are virtual teams.

1.5. Objectives of the Study

This study fulfils following objectives.

The main objective is

To empirically explore the specific charismatic behavioral characteristics in leaders of virtual teams in Sri Lankan BPO sector.

Other sub objectives are,

1) To develop a perceived virtual charismatic leadership profile represented in virtual team leaders.
2) To conceptualize virtual charismatic leadership.

1.6. Purpose of the Study

More than one hundred years of leadership research, led to several paradigm shifts and a voluminous body of knowledge. On several occasions, scholars of leadership became quite frustrated by the large amount contradictory findings (Vigoda-Gadot, 2007). As stated more than five decades ago by Warren Bennis (1959), “of all the hazy and confounding areas in social psychology, leadership theory undoubtedly contends for top nomination for further research. Probably more has been written and less is known about leadership than about any other topic in the behavioral sciences.” In a similar vein, Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman (2007) more recently concluded that the leadership field is “curiously unformed” (Day & Antonakis, 2012). As noted recently, leadership is an evolving construct that reflects ongoing changes in the challenges that require unlimited leadership research. For all these reasons, there has been much dissatisfaction and suspicion in the leadership field (Greene, 1977; Schriesheim & Kerr, 1977) and even calls for delays on leadership research (Miner, 1975). Hence this study offers a new direction to the leadership research especially in the charismatic leadership arena.

The purpose of the current study is to understand charismatic leadership within a specific type of team (virtual teams), working in business process outsourcing companies by using the mixed method research tool for the purpose of theory elaboration in the area of charismatic leadership and virtual teams. Although the BPO industry in particular is vibrant components of the Sri Lankan economy with undeniable world-wide influence, it is surprising that there is very little research in this arena. Therefore this contribute to knowledge of charismatic leadership, not only in virtual teams, but to the under-researched industry of BPO also, to add richness to the understanding of the charismatic leadership.

Due to the unique relationship with followers, charismatic leaders can be powerful agents of organizational success. Current theories of charismatic leadership have emphasized primarily the personality and behavior of leaders and their effects on followers, organizations, and society. This emphasis fails to uncover how charisma of virtual leaders affect their follower and their by generate improved team performance. Hence this study unveil the knowledge of how the charismatic leaders behave in the virtual context. In leadership studies (especially in situational leadership theories) it was emphasis the importance of “context “for leadership. Virtuality is the modern contextual factor that today’s organizations are operating in and that has not given enough emphasis in leadership research. This study mainly focuses on this contextual factor to determine the contribution of charismatic leadership behaviors in these teams.

Therefore, the purpose of this mixed method research study was to explore the charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual teams in Sri Lankan BPO sector. The significance of this exploration is that it may inform an understanding of what charismatic behaviors are presence in team leaders in virtual teams that may finally contribute to the leadership literature and leadership practices.

Given the above facts the purpose of this study is to fill up the knowledge gap as explained above and find out the behavior of leader’s charisma for virtual work arrangement.

1.7. Significance of the Study

This study contributes to the leadership and virtual team literature in different ways. First, this provides an overview of charisma, charismatic leadership behaviors, virtuality and its association with leader behaviors. Second, this study shows that certain characteristics of charismatic leader behaviors in virtual teams. This study is among the first to stare virtual charismatic leadership behaviors specifically looking from the follower centric perspective.

This study advances our theoretical knowledge concerning charismatic leadership in virtual organizations/ teams, with implications for practical use of this leadership style in virtual context. Specifically, it observed charismatic leadership behaviors in virtual teams at in Sri Lankan BPO companies, mainly because it signals that the leadership has a vital role in affecting team performance.

The study aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of charismatic leadership in virtual teams by providing the unique virtual charismatic leadership profile. Furthermore, it provides a definition for charismatic leadership in virtual setting for further researchers. The study both contributes theoretically and practically by shedding new light on under-researched areas acknowledged by previous research.

The theoretical contribution of this study provides new insights to the identified knowledge gap; as stated in the knowledge gap. As mentioned there is an identified need for further research both in the area of virtual team management (Zander et al., 2012; Powell et al, 2004) as well as the charismatic leadership process.

The practical contribution is to gain a deeper understanding of charismatic leadership which is in virtual teams, which can be beneficial for companies, executives, students and employees working in different virtual environments. A deeper understanding of charismatic leadership can increase productivity in the virtual working team, decrease employee turnover as well as increase job satisfaction (Abrams & De Moura, 2001). Furthermore, virtual teams are rapidly growing in numbers worldwide and it is reasonable to assume that the phenomenon is here to stay. This advancement calls for a deeper understanding in order for business life to take informed decisions.

Stakeholders that have a relation to a virtual team can reflect upon the advantages and disadvantages to be connected in a supply chain of which a virtual team is a part of it.

BPO industry is facing one major challenge; where there is a high attrition rate (Maneetpuri, 2010). In fact average attrition rate is about 35 - 40 % in outsource industry (Sharma, 2010). Since there is high attrition, most of the BPO companies spend and waste money on recruiting and training activities (Kangaraarachchi, 2010). It was identified that one of the reasons for this level of attrition due to poor relationship with peers and team leaders. So if charismatic leadership of the team members effects on better relationships and finally this tendency will be minimized.

The study aims to have a challenging approach to the concept of charismatic leadership and its emergence in virtual setting. The implications of this study can be useful for business organizations which hope to receive performance beyond expectations. This study significantly contribute for policy implications of new paradigms of leadership.

The perceived virtual charismatic leadership profile of virtual teams is mostly useful in training charismatic leadership behaviors. Newly formed virtual teams in BPO companies can train and develop team leaders to become charismatic leaders in order to enhance the team cohesiveness and team performance. This study provides better contribution for the virtual team literature and literature of charismatic leadership.

Again this study provides an overview of Sri Lankan BPO companies and virtual teams as its main components. Finally this gives implications for the leadership trainers in virtual environment.

1.8. Methodology of the Study

There was a pilot study to test the virtuality of the teams in BPO sector in Sri Lanka since it was essential to conclude that the teams of BPO sector are characterized virtual nature. The pilot study report was attached as the annexure 1.

The main study is a mixed method research study and followed the mixed method approach of research methodology. Mixed method approach was followed mainly due to the interest of the researcher followed by the various benefits of the mixed method research contributed to a research study (Creswell, 2003). Further conferring the argument postulated by advocates of mixed methods studies, mixed method research address much more comprehensive research purposes than do quantitative or qualitative research alone (Newman, Ridenour, Newman, & DeMarco, 2003). Consistent with this assertion, and expanding on Rossman and Wilson’s (1985) work, Greene, Caracelli, and Graham (1989) categorized the following five general purposes of mixed- methodological studies: (a) triangulation (i.e., seeking convergence and corroboration of findings from different methods that study the same phenomenon); (b) complementarity (i.e., seeking elaboration, illustration, enhancement, and clarification of the findings from one method with results from the other method); (c) development (i.e., using the findings from one method to help inform the other method); (d) initiation (i.e., discovering paradoxes and contradictions that lead to a re-framing of the research question); and (e) expansion (i.e., seeking to expand the breadth and range of inquiry by using different methods for different inquiry components). As observed by Greene et al. (1989), every mixed methodological study can be classified as having one or more of these five purposes

Accordingly, the reason for choosing the mixed method approach for this study is, since the study needed triangulation, complementarity and expansion of knowledge relating to charismatic leadership and virtual teams as stated above. Indeed, because mixed methods research involves combining quantitative and qualitative approaches in some manner within the same inquiry, investigators using this paradigm are able to probe further into a dataset to understand its meaning and to use one method to verify findings stemming from the other method (Onwuegbuzie & Teddlie, 2003).

Then, in choosing among the mixed method research designs, this study selected the fixed mixed methods design due to the fixed and planned nature of the study. Fixed mixed methods designs are mixed methods designs, where the usage of quantitative and qualitative methods is predetermined and planned at the start of the research process and the procedures are implemented as planned (Creswell, 2013).

There is a wide range of available classifications of types of mixed methods designs that methodologists have advanced. Creswell et al, (2003) summarized the range of these classifications in 2003, and summarised in Table 1.1. These classifications represent diverse disciplines, including evaluation, health sciences, and education, and span scholarly writings about mixed methods approaches since the late 1980s. They also tend to use different terminology and emphasize different features of mixed methods designs.

Table 1.1 Mixed Methods Design Classifications.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Note: Adapted from Creswell, Plano Clark, et al. (2003, pp. 216-217).

Further Creswell et al, (2003) in their book, “Advanced mixed methods research designs” stated that,

“While there are potentially a limitless number of unique combinations of mixed method research designs, from our work with researchers across disciplines and based on reading hundreds of mixed methods studies, we have found that there is a relatively small set of combinations that are used most frequently in practice. Therefore, we present a typology of major mixed methods designs that conveys the basic designs used as well as tries to encapsulate the richness available to mixed methods researchers.”

The table 1.2 depict these major types of mixed method designs, out of which this study selected the sequential exploratory design considering the given criteria.

Table 1.2 Types of Designs by Four Criteria

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Note: Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E.(2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioural research (pp. 209-240).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

The above table extracted from Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioural research (pp. 209-240) shows six types of mixed method designs based on four different criteria; implementation, priority, stage of integration and theoretical perspective. By examining each of these designs along with the available options the “sequential exploratory” design was selected for this study. Since the collection of qualitative and quantitative data happens sequentially but independently, giving equal priority to each of strands and integrating (mixing) two stands at the interpretation phase and having a theoretical lens called “Behavioural Theory of Charismatic Leadership” the selection of concurrent triangulation design is justified for this study. Further it is in consistent with the study’s purpose and objectives.

1.8.1. Sequential Exploratory Design

The sequential exploratory design is probably the most familiar of the six major mixed methods designs (Edwards, 2010). It is selected as the design of this study since the researcher uses two different methods in an attempt to explore, confirm, cross-validate, or corroborate findings within a single study (Greene et al., 1989; Morgan, 1998; Steckler et al., 1992). This design generally uses separate quantitative and qualitative methods as a means to offset the weaknesses inherent within one method with the strengths of the other method. In this design, the quantitative data collection and qualitative data collection are carried out sequentially, in two phases of the research study. Ideally, the priority would be equal between the two methods, but in practical application, the priority may be given to either the quantitative or the qualitative approach.

This design usually integrates the results of the two methods during the interpretation phase. This interpretation either may note the convergence of the findings as a way to strengthen the knowledge claims of the study or must explain any lack of convergence that may result. This traditional mixed methods design is advantageous because it is familiar to most researchers and can result in well-validated and substantiated findings. In addition, the sequential data collection takes a significant period of data collection as compared with that of the concurrent designs signifying as a major limitation.

This design also has a number of limitations. It requires great effort and expertise to adequately study a phenomenon with two separate methods (Edwards, 2010). It can also be difficult to compare the results of two analyses using data of different forms (Edwards, 2010). In addition, it may be unclear to a researcher how to resolve discrepancies that arise in the results. Other variations of this design also exist. For example, it would be possible for a researcher to integrate the two methods earlier in the research process such as during the analysis phase. This would require the transformation of the data from a quantitative to a qualitative form or from a qualitative to a quantitative form. While such transformations have been discussed in the literature (Caracelli & Greene, 1993; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998), there is still limited guidance for how to conduct and analyse such transformations in practice (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007).

1.8.2. Data Collection and Data Collection Instrument

First, to test the virtuality of the teams in BPO sector a test of Virtuality was carried out as a primary test using the virtuality index developed by Chudoba et al (2005). This is a primary test done in this study (See Annexure 1).

The main study was carried out in two phases, one for quantitative and the other for qualitative method. Accordingly, the charismatic leadership behaviors, one questionnaire was used with two parts. Part one for the measurement of charismatic leadership, part two was for the demographic information of the study setting. For the qualitative phase, a questionnaire was developed taking the questions from same questionnaire used in quantitative phase.

The study is based on the theory of charismatic leadership and its different approaches. As Yukl (1999) notes, most of the studies in charismatic leadership employ the Conger-Kanungo (C-K) Scale which focuses on six behavioral factors said to be exhibited by charismatic leaders: strategic visioning, sensitivity to the environment, unconventional behavior, personal risk, sensitivity to organizational members' needs, and deviation from the status quo. In identifying patterns and gaps in the theoretical frameworks, House and Shamir (1993) proposed a seven-factor model of charismatic leadership including (a) visionary behavior, (b) positive self-presentation, (c) empowering behaviors, (d) calculated risk taking and self-sacrificial behavior, (e) intellectual stimulation, (f) supportive leader behavior, and (g) adaptive behavior. These factors overlap somewhat with the MLQ factors, with the possible exceptions of positive self-presentation, calculated risk taking and self-sacrificial behavior, and adaptive behavior. Risk taking and selfsacrificial behavior is evident in the attributions followers’ make of the leader’s idealized influence, because the leader displays a high ethical and moral code, is a risk-taker, and has a strong sense of mission (Bass, 1998). However, Brown argues that several leadership styles and particularly transformational/charismatic leadership are greatly influenced by interpersonal affect, raters when assessed with MLQ, and ignore the empowering behavior and the causal effects of a leader on the organizational processes (Yukl 1999).

For this study the C-K scale is used with some modifications by including non-overlapping factors of House and Shamir (1993).

On the other hand, relying solely on questionnaires does not provide sufficient information about the context of leadership (Bass 1996). In my attempt to eliminate ambiguity and bias, and in order to obtain expanded and complementary data, a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research methods is used. Survey is first completed and then in depth interviews and focus groups used as a follow-up to explain the quantitative results. Since the nature of the research problem, method of date collection and way of arriving to the conclusion are characterize more towards the mixed method research tradition, the study was a mixed method research.

The quantitative data were collected by survey method using C-K scale. Semi-structured interviews and focused group interviews were used to collect qualitative data. The interviews consist of open and focused questions whereas the questionnaire draws on the C-K scale. Data derived from the survey was then cross checked with data derived from the focused group interviews by way of validation.

Since very few studies have been conducted in the area of virtual teams in Sri Lankan BPO sector this study will be an exploratory study to achieve the first objective. The phenomenon virtual leadership plays a significant role in virtual teams. To better comprehend the nature of the virtual leadership in Sri Lankan BPO sector extensive interviews with many people working as team members in these companies and focus groups have been undertaken. Current thinking of virtual team leadership in BPO companies is too narrow and limited, and researcher thought that it is useful to employ exploratory type study.

In an attempt to achieve above stated research goals and in order to provide more insight into the problem, this study used mixed method research approach that entails mixing qualitative and quantitative approaches with the aim of exploring and describing the research problem. This was done by obtaining ideas, perceptions, attitudes, knowledge and experiences of the respondents through structured and semi structured interviews plus collecting survey data via administrating questionnaires.

Data analysis were done using primarily Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and then confirmatory Factor analysis (CFA) and few applications of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). At the end triangulation of quantitative and qualitative findings integrated the findings.

Since the study is undertaken in the environment where the team members work normally the study follows a no contrive study setting and this is a field study. The unit of analysis in this study refers the team members to reveal the charismatic leadership.

1.9. Scope of the Study

The scope of the study focuses mainly on the new genre leadership. It specifically centered to charismatic leadership. The three main constructs which were covered by the study are charismatic leadership, virtual team and BPO companies in Sri Lanka. In understanding charismatic leadership the Conger and Kanungo’s attribution theory of charismatic leadership is used as the theoretical lens through which to see the charismatic leadership in virtual teams. Virtual team is defined using only three dimensions namely team distribution, workplace mobility, and variety of practices that are overarching discontinuities with important implications for understanding how virtual an organization is (Chudoba, Wynn, Lu, & Watson-Manheim, 2005). The study limited to the BPO companies in Sri Lanka.

1.10. Organization of the Chapters

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Introduction to the study and a research gap identified from earlier studies. This is followed by the research questions, research objectives and the purpose of the study. A brief discussion of methodology applied for the study and the scope of the study were given before the final disposition which is provided as a conclusion of the chapter in order to give the reader an overview. Chapter 2 -Literature Review

The literature chapter begins with a literature review of the current research on charismatic leadership and virtuality and virtual teams which is presented in order to develop a theoretical knowledge. The review is followed by a discussion of the relevant theories and the theoretical models that is used in this study.

Chapter 3 - Methodology and Philosophy

The methodology chapter will consist of a presentation of the methodological choices as well as a thorough motivation why each has been selected. It will be discussed both from a theoretical as well as a practical perspectives, and a comparison of the relative advantages and disadvantages of alternative approaches. Furthermore, the author’s epistemological, ontological, and axiological assumptions be presented and reflected upon. Finally the chapter concludes with the practical methods used when conducting the study, and discussed the questionnaire as the main instrument and interview guide in two segments, since quantitative approach and the qualitative approach of this study were carried out in the two phases.

Chapter 4 - Analysis and Results

This chapter has two segments: one is for the presentation and analysis of quantitative data and the other is for the presentation and analysis of qualitative data. The chapter begins with the information on sample. Then describe the quantitative analysis starting from data screening and analysing the quantitative data. It is followed by a descriptive analysis of the quantitative data. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were presented as the main analysis in the quantitative phase. Qualitative data analysis was started with developing themes and identifying major themes around the main variables. The chapter concludes with triangulating the finding of the two phases of analysis around the research questions of the study. Further the chapter includes a presentation of the qualitative data, in which each interview is presented. The quantitative data are presented as descriptive statistics with tables and textual descriptions.

Chapter 6 - Conclusion & Recommendations

The conclusion presents the findings and restates the research questions in order to draw conclusions regarding the questions and purpose. The chapter continues with a discussion of the most important findings that focuses on and then the practical and theoretical implications of the thesis were given, stating how the findings can be used in both the academic and in the field. This is followed by a discussion of issues/limitations that came up during the study and the chapter ends with a general discussion of our overall impression of the study. The final section consists of recommendations for further research.


2.1. Introduction

The chapter begins by introducing leadership, the key concept of this study. Then describes the concept “Charisma” from its beginning to its relevance to charismatic leadership. The theories of charismatic leadership and the related research studies were discussed. Next, the chapter states how charismatic leadership has drawn the attention of researchers from different fields of study. While the literature on charismatic leadership is abundant the chapter focused on most substantial areas only. Next, studies on virtuality and virtual teams are presented. Finally, a brief discussion on Sri Lankan BPO industry in which this study was carried out was given.

2.2. Leadership

The term leadership typically comprises more or less well defined concepts and phenomena ranging from individual to group level leadership issues, leadership in different kinds of organizations and industries, or attributes of leadership such as different behaviors according to changing situations. (Karahanna and Watson 2006; Yukl 1989). The evolution of the leadership literature can be explored by examining concepts and theories on leadership over a period of time.

Several scholars have offered overviews of the development of a definition of leadership. Brown (1997) analyzed definitions of leadership by decade between 1900 and 1990 (Birnbaum, 1992; Brown, 1997). He noticed that during the period 1900-1930, leadership literature emphasized leader control and centralization of power. Further, the center of attention in defining leadership shifted from leaders’ personalities in the 1930s, to groups and functions of collective efforts in the 1940s. Another shift occurred in the 1950s when the focus of leadership studies was on visioning and goal-sharing. Influencing others became the center of leadership studies in the 1960s, in conjunction with the popularization of the behavioral movement (Birnbaum, 1992; Brown, 1997). In the 1970s, scholars examined the relationships and interactions between leaders and followers. A final shift in the 1980s moved scholars to explore transformational leadership, transactional leadership, charismatic leadership and visionary leadership. Development of the scope of leadership research can be traced through these main stages. Each approach has made positive contributions to the development of leadership theory. The scope of this study limited to the charismatic leadership.

Warren Bennis, who has over the decades demonstrated remarkable perspicacity about the problems of leadership, notes that “it is important to remember that the quali ty of all our lives is dependent on the quality of our leadership.” (Bennis, 2009).

“The context in which we study leadership is very differentfrom the context in which we study other areas. By definition, leaders wield power, and so we study them with the same self-interested intensity with which we study diabetes and other life- threatening diseases. Only when we understand leaders, will we be able to control them. ” (Bennis, 2009).

He further said charisma is the attraction of many follower towards a leader and thus the nature of charisma and charismatic leadership is nowadays quite popular area of research.

Indeed, the most potent of leaders, charismatic and transformational leaders, are the ones who can bring about needed social change; although these types of leaders have also been capable of dreadful deeds, which explains Bennis’s (2009) concern. This chapter does not provide a treatise on issues concerning the selection, development, and outcomes of leadership and related topics but focus on charismatic leadership, though will touch on some of these other important issues where relevant. Next, discuss the most important contributions to this research stream (chronologically)

2.3. The Concept of Charisma

Historically, the term charisma is derived from an ancient Greek word which gives meaning to 'gift'. It would later be adopted by the early Christian Church to describe gifts from God that was received to perform extraordinary feats such as prophecy and healing (Brocato & Theodori, 2011). The application of the word to leadership contexts came with the pioneering work of Max Weber in 1920. Charismatic authority, as Weber asserted, derived its particular legitimacy not from traditions, rules, positions, or laws but rather from faith in a leader's exemplary character. The holder of charisma is 'set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least having exceptional powers and qualities which are not accessible to the ordinary person but are regarded as of divinely originated or as exemplary. On the basis of this, the individual concerned is treated as a leader' (Weber, 1947)

In “The Theory of Social and Economic Organization” (1947), Max Weber wrote:

“The term charisma will be applied to a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary persona, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader,” (Weber,1947)

Weber (1946), claimed that “in charismatic relations people no longer obey customs or laws, instead, the followers submit to the imperious demands of a heroic figure, whose orders are legitimated not by logic, nor by the hero’s place in ascribed hierarchy, but solely by the personal ‘power to command’ of the charismatic individual”. Indeed, “charismatic relations” are regarded as the “most emotional” (Shamir, 1991; Willner, 1984). Some even compare these relations to romantic love (Lindholm, 1988, 1990).

Max Weber, in his analysis of charisma, differentiated charismatic authority from more traditional or legal/ bureaucratic forms of authority. Charisma is one of several ideal types of authority. The others are bureaucratic and feudal. Weber observed that the capitalist entrepreneur has three choices: be charismatic, feudal, or bureaucratic. For most leaders, the bureaucratic choice has been made.

Political scientists and sociologists have spent several decades examining this phenomenon. Although several have identified specific charismatic attributes such as a transcendent vision and/or ideology (Blau, 1963; Dow, 1969; Marcus, 1961; Willner, 1984), acts of heroism (Willner, 1984), an ability to inspire and build confidence (Dow, 1969; Friedrich, 1961; Marcus, 1961; Willner, 1984), the expression of revolutionary and often "hazardous" ideals (Berger, 1963; Dow, 1969; Friedland, 1961; Marcus, 1961), rhetorical ability (Willner, 1984), and a "powerful aura" (Willner, 1984), much of their work centered on determining the locus of charismatic leadership.


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Charismatic Leadership in Virtual Teams. The Business Process Outsourcing Sector in Sri Lanka
University of Kelaniya
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charismatic, leadership, virtual, teams, business, process, outsourcing, sector, lanka
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Thamara Gunasekare (Author), 2018, Charismatic Leadership in Virtual Teams. The Business Process Outsourcing Sector in Sri Lanka, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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