Bridging the gap between traditional leadership theories and virtual team leadership

Suling Zhang, Jrry Fjermestad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper identifies the paucity of theoretical development in virtual team leadership research and proposes that virtual team leadership research can be more rigorous and enriched by applying traditional leadership theories, specifically, leadership traits theory and contingency theory. Existing virtual team leadership research regarding these two theories is reviewed and limitations are discussed. Four contingencies which characterise virtual team context are identified including physical distance, communicational distance, organisational distance and cultural distance. Three important leadership traits in virtual team context are discussed: communication competency, environmental alertness, and influence power. This paper calls for a hybrid approach in virtual team leadership research. The implications of the four virtual team contingencies on these leadership traits are presented and research propositions are raised. A conceptual model is presented based on the propositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-291
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Technology, Policy and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Engineering


  • Contingency leadership theory
  • Leader traits
  • Leadership theory
  • Virtual team distances
  • Virtual team leadership


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