Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relationship of Distributed Expertise and Shared Leadership in New Product Development Teams: A Comparative Case Study
by Moose, Alida Milligan, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2013, 193; 3551317
Abstract (Summary)

As we interact within a broader economic environment, our understanding of the role of expertise needs to evolve to where the role of the leader and expert are not necessarily synonymous. Knowledge-based work relies on expertise, and organizations depend more on knowledge workers than on singular leaders. Dimensions such as task interdependence and the sharing of responsibility lay the groundwork for expertise to play an important role in new product development. To better understand how expertise and shared leadership occur in a team setting and how they relate to each other, teams of product experts offered contexts for study. This comparative case study describes how leadership is shared and expertise is distributed in team interaction to facilitate new product development.

During this research, it was discovered that expertise is displayed as team behavior. For instance, when the content of the subject matter was easily understood by most team members, social influence was displayed more prominently in team interaction. However, when the topic was highly complex, team members deferred to the expert in the team. Due to their interdependency, team members operated in a symbiotic manner as they relinquished opportunity to present their own opinions and ideas to receive valuable input from their more expert peers. Therefore, deference was triggered by the content and complexity of the subject matter. The second conclusion concerned the evidence of one's expertise over time. Trusting relationships formed from the evidence of expertise and not the status one's role represented. The third conclusion suggested presenting facts with an emotionally powerful delivery was more influential than facts alone. However, emotions accompanying an opinion did not have the same effect as emotions accompanying facts from an expert.

Other findings included the role of humor, which helped steer the team through highly technical conversations where individual team members were challenged by the complexity of the dialogue. Humorous exchanges set the stage to socially reconnect and leverage each other's unique expertise to advance shared objectives. Overall, this study presents shared leadership and distributed expertise as two sides of the same coin--as two facets of team influence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schwandt, David R.
Commitee: Casey, Andrea, Szabla, David B.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Organization Theory, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Development teams, Distributed expertise, Insurance, Product development, Shared leadership
Publication Number: 3551317
ISBN: 9781267888921
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