Space, time, and the development of shared leadership networks in multiteam systems

Sophia D. Sullivan, Alina Lungeanu, Leslie A. Dechurch, Noshir S. Contractor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Digital technologies have created the potential for new forms of organizing among geographically dispersed individuals by connecting their ideas across the time and space in complex multiteam systems (MTSs). Realizing this potential requires novel forms of shared leadership structures to shepherd divergent and convergent thinking necessary to nurture innovation. While there is limited research on how space influences leadership and how the time influences leadership, there is virtually no theorizing on how space and time interact together to influence the emergence of shared leadership structures that facilitates innovation. A key contribution of this study is to utilize an agent-based model (ABM) that draws upon the research on leadership, networks, and innovation to specify generative mechanisms (or micro-processes) through which shared leadership structures emerge over space and time. The parameters in this model were estimated from empirical data. Results of virtual experiments (VE) yielded testable hypotheses suggesting that, over time, leadership capacity and between-team ties are negatively influenced by space. Furthermore, the computational model suggests that space increases the concentration of divergent leadership but decreases the concentration of convergent leadership. The study concludes by discussing the implications for the design of effective leadership structures to nurture innovation in MTSs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-155
Number of pages32
JournalNetwork Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • agent based modeling
  • computational modeling
  • innovation
  • multiteam systems
  • networks
  • shared leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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