Thumbnail Image

Emerging Leadership Roles in Collaborative Engineering Sessions

Bagenholm, David; Hartmann, Timo

Purpose: To deal with the rising complexity of civil engineering projects, practice starts relying increasingly on collaborative design meetings. Leadership behaviour in such meeting is not yet well understood despite the importance of such understanding to manage collaborative design meetings well. The purpose of this study is to explore emerging leadership behaviour in design meetings through a detailed grounded theory development study into leadership behavior within design teams. Design / Methodology / Approach: We conducted a grounded theory development study using recordings of seven meetings of a collaborative design team within an academic setting. The recordings of the design meetings were transcribed and analysed using conversation analysis methods. Grounded theory was developed through qualitative coding of the transcripts of the meetings’ conversations. Findings: We show that the participants in the design meetings utilized four different behavioural approaches to leadership: outcome oriented, administratively oriented, entrepreneurial oriented, and team integration oriented. Our findings also show that each of the participants employed each of the different leadership approaches during the design sessions and that leadership was highly emergent and dynamically changing. Originality: We provide strong evidence for the necessity to consider leadership in collaborative design teams as a highly flexible and emergent phenomena. Our study also shows that the four behavioural approaches to leadership might be good categories to understand these dynamics. Research Limitations / Implications: We only analyzed meetings of one design team within an academic setting which might reduce the possibility to generalize results widely. Future research should try to reproduce the work observing collaborative design meetings in real practice and across different organizational cultures. Still our study points to the requirement to understand leadership in collaborative design teams as a highly dynamic and emerging phenomena. Practical Implications: The four categories of leadership behaviours provide participants within collaborative design efforts a means to understand their own and others behaviour. Our results also provide important clues that managing collaborative design teams well requires establishing different leadership approaches at different times.
  • Submitted to "Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management" (Emerald Publishing)