Task uncertainty on the relationship between social hierarchy and leadership emergence


  • Jin Park Zayed University




task uncertainty, social hierarchy, status, power, social networks, leadership emergence


Self-managing teams have gained popularity, yet those teams in practice often have limited formal hierarchical differentiation, formal order, or imposed coordination. Social hierarchy has functions of establishing order and facilitating coordination, and it plays important roles in teams where team members autonomously interact and manage tasks. Two important forms of social hierarchy, status and power, critically affect how individuals on a team emerge as leaders, and thus help self-managing teams’ coordination. In the current study, two questions are explored: 1) How do informal status and power affect leadership emergence in project teams? 2) How do team task types affect the relationship between informal status/power and leadership emergence in project teams? A field study was conducted in a consulting firm in South Korea. The results show that the high-status individuals are most likely to emerge as leaders of project teams, and that the relationship between status and leadership emergence is stronger in teams dealing with highly uncertain tasks.