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A multilevel analysis of the association among individual capabilities, team leadership behaviors, and performance in China

Jose C Alves, University of Massachusetts Amherst


One of the fundamental research questions about leadership in teams revolves around whether to organize activities on the basis of capabilities (Balkundi and Harrison, 2006) or behaviors (Pearce and Sims, 2002). Despite a growing body of theoretical work by scholars from each of these traditions, there is still limited empirical research about how behaviors and capacities of leadership interact to explain performance in teams.^ Research on teams and leadership is a relatively well defined field of study in the West, but still incipient in non-Western countries, particularly in China (e.g. Tjosvold, Law, and Sun, 2006; Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, and Fu, 2004; Tsui, Zhang, Wang, Xin, Wu, 2006). Notwithstanding, since teams are recognizably important work units in Chinese organizations (Chuah and Law, 2006; Law and Chuah, 2004), whether these are Western invested firms (Chen and Barshes, 2000) or state-owned enterprises (Tjosvold, Law, and Sun, 2003), it is important to learn more about leadership and teams in China.^ This study examines multilevel relationships among individual social capital, human capital, team leadership behaviors, and performance. Data from 350 individuals and 69 teams were gathered in two organizations in China, and analyzed with hierarchical linear modeling. The findings provide strong evidence that individual social capital, human capital, and team leadership behaviors do matter for individual performance.^ Additionally, the results suggest the existence of team paradoxes: individual social capital is related to individual performance, but this effect is reversed as team average social capital increases; human capital and team tenure have opposite effects on individual performance; and, team diversity has contrary effects on social capital and human capital.^ This study is one of the first to demonstrate the integration of two theoretical traditions on team leadership using multiple levels of analysis. The team paradoxes suggest that there is no 'ideal formula' to manage team leadership, thus managers must learn how to cope with it in systemic and adaptive ways. Furthermore, the results of this study also reveal that a deeper understanding of team leadership requires, for example, disaggregation of social capital, examination of team processes, and reconceptualization of team leadership behaviors.^

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Recommended Citation

Alves, Jose C, "A multilevel analysis of the association among individual capabilities, team leadership behaviors, and performance in China" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3315480.