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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Shared leadership effectiveness in independent professional teams

Shared leadership effectiveness in independent professional teams

  • a WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Chair of Organizational Behavior, Burgplatz 2, 56179 Vallendar, Germany
  • b Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Institute for Leadership and Organization, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München, Germany
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Firms make increasingly use of independent professional teams, i.e. teams that are staffed with self-employed experts with high levels of entrepreneurial orientation. As independent professional teams are regularly self-managed, they rely on all team members sharing leadership responsibilities. Existing theory on shared leadership silently assumes that team members always welcome influence by their fellow team members. However, we argue that independent professionals make conscious decisions regarding whether or not to adhere to other team members’ influence attempts. According to social exchange theory, individual behavior is contingent on rewarding actions from others. In this vein, adherence to social influence by other team members has to be seen as rewarding for followership to occur. Applying social exchange theory, we thus point to the importance of taking a leader, a follower and a relationship perspective to understanding shared leadership effectiveness (i.e. actual social influence) in independent professional teams. From a leader-perspective, it is perceived responsibility for team outcomes driving individual influence attempts. From a follower-perspective, on the other hand, it is the appreciation of such attempts leading to their acceptance. Jointly, influence attempts and influence acceptance increase shared leadership effectiveness. Finally, from a relationship-perspective, there are three stages of relationship quality development, i.e. calculus-, knowledge-, and identification-based relationship that contribute to shared leadership effectiveness.


► Independent professionals are a new form of collaboration in many enterprises. ► Leadership in this field has focused on leader-centered approaches. ► Team-based approaches, such as shared leadership are new in the field. ► Applying social exchange theory, we show how and why independent professionals engage in shared leadership behavior.


  • Shared leadership;
  • Independent professionals;
  • Social exchange theory

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Corresponding author contact information
Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 (0) 261 6509 310; fax: +49 (0) 261 6509 319.
MARTIN HOEGL (MBA, Washington State Univ.; Ph.D., Univ. of Karlsruhe, Germany; Habilitation, Technical University of Berlin, Germany) is Head of the Institute for Leadership and Organization at Ludwig-Maximilians-Univ. Munich. His main research interests include leadership, collaboration and innovation in organizations. Professor Hoegl has published in leading international journals including the Academy of Management Journal, Decision Sciences, Human Resource Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, and others.
MIRIAM MUETHEL (BSc in Information Management, MSc in Business Administration, PhD in Management) holds the Chair of Organizational Behavior. The 2011 Handelsblatt ranking of business professors at universities in German-speaking Europe shows Professor Muethel to be among the 100 top business researchers in the category ‘Current Research Productivity of Young Academics’. Before joining WHU, Dr. Muethel worked for over two years as a business consultant at Volkswagen in the area of international project management.
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