Peer Leadership in a Virtual Community of Practice
Ross, Jack John Wesley
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This interpretive research study examines peer leadership in a distributed online MBA community of practice at New States University (NSU pseudonym, based in USA). It explores ways in which faculty members in a global business course, NMBA616 (pseudonym), negotiate relationships, meaning and identity in their efforts to be effective teachers and address their own needs for professional growth and development. The research participants provide insights about community formation and function in a virtual domain where they work together at a distance without meeting face-to-face. The study appears to be a new application of culture code methodology, symbolic interactionism and social learning theory as they conjoin on social, psychological and organizational levels. To my knowledge it is the first study of an MBA virtual community of practice. Research interviews were conducted primarily by distance using web-based technology, teleconferences and email, as well as some face to face discussion. The central questions are: 1) To what extent does a distributed faculty team in an online global business management course constitute a community of practice? 2) What is the nature of faculty relationships in the online global business management course? and 3) What are the leadership issues in a virtual practice setting? Findings reveal that online community practitioners are resourceful in creating peer leadership that is embedded within the group and its relationships. The study is motivated by my personal interests and professional experience, as well as by the quest of online colleagues for ways to assess, support and improve themselves and their practice. Building on personal experience as an online business communications instructor, the thesis presents an example of peer leadership in a virtual global business community of practice and in its completion stands as a case study.
EdD in Education