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Predicting leadership emergence in global virtual teams



Objective: This study examines the individual factors that predict whether individuals will emerge as leaders in global virtual teams, which often lack a more formal leadership structure.

Research Design & Methods: We focus on emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence (CQ) as two contemporary concepts that are of key relevance to leadership success. Building on socioanalytic theory, we hypothesize that individuals with higher levels of EQ and CQ have a higher probability of emerging as team leaders. We test the hypotheses on a sample of 415 teams comprised of 1 102 individuals who participated in a virtual international collaboration project. Using structural equation modeling, the results reveal that individuals with higher CQ were more likely to emerge as leaders.

Findings: Our findings did not support the relevance of EQ. In addition, individual factors such as English proficiency, a higher age, and a lower power distance were also associated with leadership emergence.

Implications & Recommendations: The study identified the gap in the literature regarding EQ and CQ in the context of leadership emergence. The results demonstrate that individuals with high CQ and high EQ that may have beneficial effects on the team and its outcomes do not automatically emerge as team leaders. We recommend that managers carefully consider which projects and tasks they will leave the leadership structure to emerge more informally.

Contribution & Value Added: The key contribution and value added of this study is the investigation of the role of CQ and EQ with leadership emergence in global virtual teams (GVT), through the creation of a leadership emergence model building on socio-analytic theory.


leadership emergence, emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, global virtual teams, PLS-SEM



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