Leader Emergence in an Internet Environment
With the progression of technology, particularly the Internet, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations, both business and academic, to effectively use the Internet for research and data collection. In this study, leaderless discussions conducted completely in an Internet environment were used to study how individuals emerged as leaders. The study assessed Leaderless Discussion variables as well as Internet process variables such as emoticons, web-based initializations, and technical speak as predictors of leader emergence. The findings suggest that an Internet-mediated Leaderless Discussion is fundamentally different from a face-to-face environment. Traditional Leaderless Discussion variables (Gender, Satisfaction, and Intelligence) are not predictive of leader emergence in computer-mediated context. On the other hand, many of the Internet process variables (Initializations, Word Count, and Number of Posts) were found to have strong positive relationships with leader emergence further highlighting the uniqueness of the Internet environment.
Keywords: Leadership, Internet, Leader Emergence, Virtual Groups, Computer Mediated Communication, Electronic Communication
University of Oklahoma, Department of Psychology