BROKERING THEIR WAY TO LEADERSHIP: HOW INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES ENABLE BROKERS TO BE EFFECTIVE WITHIN AND BETWEEN TEAMS
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Complex organizational tasks, especially in knowledge intensive organizations, require the effective collaboration and coordination across teams or disciplines. Such effective inter-team coordination is the key to realize the organization’s competitive advantage, and informal leadership plays an important role during this process. However, the current literature on leadership in teams fails to explain how leaders can help with inter-team issues. In fact, external leaders can be the missing link that fosters this coordination and thereby enhance not just their team’s, but also the organization’s productivity. In this dissertation, I draw on literatures of brokerage and informal leadership to develop and test a model that explains: 1) Who will emerge as external leaders? 2) What do they do to become leaders? 3) What are the implications of being an external leader? Specifically, I propose a structure-agency interactive model, whereby individuals occupying critical network positions, such as inter-team brokers, will be more likely to engage in leadership behaviors, when they internalize a leader identity. By engaging in sensegiving and social support behaviors towards others in different teams, the inter-team brokers are perceived as emergent leaders, which, in turn, promotes their own performance. To test these hypotheses, I conducted a three-wave, survey-based study and collected data from 158 MBA students. The results support some of the proposed hypotheses. The conclusion of this study suggests inter-team brokers can become influential and emerge as external leaders by engaging in sensegiving and social support. This dissertation contributes to the leadership literature, especially research on informal leadership, by investigating the under-explored area of informal leadership across team boundaries.