Distributed ISD team leadership and the paradox of cohesion and conflict

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McCarthy, Stephen
O'Raghallaigh, Paidi
Fitzgerald, Ciara
Adam, Frédéric
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University of Hawai'i at Manoa
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Distributed ISD projects are often typified by deep-seated differences between team members from diverse organizational and professional backgrounds. Consequently, literature suggests that cohesion is crucial for aligning the efforts of a distributed ISD team; however, a competing body of literature also asserts that conflict is essential for capitalizing on diverse knowledge flows. Team leaders can therefore face a conundrum around how to balance the paradoxical need for both cohesion and conflict. In this paper, we develop a theoretical framework to analyze case study findings from the ‘CDSS project’, a distributed ISD project undertaken in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We find evidence that distributed ISD leaders must adopt a ‘paradox mindset’, one which embraces both cohesion and conflict. Based on these findings, we also put forward the concept of ‘leadership intelligence’ which describes the simultaneous enactment of a diverse set of leadership styles for balancing constructive cohesion and conflict.
Information System Development (ISD) , Emerging issues in distributed group decision-making: opportunities and challenges , Collaboration systems and technologies , Information Systems Development , Leadership , Team Cohesion , Team Conflict , Subgroups , Intensive care unit (ICU)
McCarthy, S., O'Raghallaigh, P., Fitzgerald, C. and Adam, F. (2019) 'Distributed ISD Team Leadership and the Paradox of Cohesion and Conflict', Proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, United States, 08-11 January, pp. 590-599. isbn: 978-0-9981331-2-6
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