Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Michelle Neal, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Charles Klein, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jennifer McCusker, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this Delphi study was to identify practices used to build cohesive teams in a virtual setting and to determine whether the practices were task-oriented or social-oriented. Organizations are challenged to remain competitive in a rapidly changing climate. Leaders in business, education, manufacturing, healthcare and nonprofit organizations look for answers to the economic, environmental, competitive and technological issues they face. Greater utilization of teams in organizations provides a better response to competitive forces, mines greater efficiencies from existing resources, and offers an ability to produce better results. Carron, Widmeyer and Brawley’s (1985) study on cohesion found a significant relationship between team cohesion and performance. They noted that previous research had focused on student groups or sports teams, definitions of cohesion, and levels of cohesiveness. Casey-Campbell & Martens (2009) recommended broadening the theoretical framework by using different types of teams, looking at what forces kept groups together. Lurey & Rasinghani (2001), in studying virtual teams, found that cohesion had a significant impact on the performance and success of a team. Studies by von Treuer et al (2010, 2013) on the factors of cohesion offered an opportunity to look at the practices teams used to build cohesiveness rather than just trying to measure it. These factors were used to create a six-point Likert-scale online survey for this Delphi study. The Delphi study asked the selected virtual team leaders of Fortune 500 companies to rate practices they felt were important to building the cohesiveness of their virtual teams. Frequencies of responses in each round were grouped by strongly agree/agree, slightly agree/slightly disagree, and disagree/strongly disagree and responses were ranked. After multiple rounds, 16 expert participants identified 74 practices they felt were used to build cohesiveness in virtual teams. Forty-eight practices were identified as task-oriented, 21 practices were social-oriented, and 5 were both. A “Framework of Cohesive Practices” was created with these practices to be used as an observation checklist, survey, or reference tool for understanding teams dynamics and helping organizations achieve the next level of performance by introducing strategies to build cohesive teams.