At the heart of this study is the influence of leadership behavior on work-related outcomes and the potential moderating and mediating effects of distance dimensions, topics that have received international attention in recent leadership research (e.g., Andressen, Konradt & Neck, 2012; Bligh & Riggio, 2013; Howell & Hall- Merenda, 1999). As such, the study aims to identify and disaggregate employed terminologies of distance. Distance leadership is predominantly conceptualized in two streams of academic literature: (1) when studying contextual factors in leadership, and (2) when investigating virtual teamwork.
With the steady rise in globalization, divisions of firms are often separated by physical distance. Distribution of followers is obviously beneficial to international corporations yet it might lead to severe drawbacks if leaders and followers remain unable to adapt to the new environment. Modern collaboration does assist in reducing risks of dispersed teams by using technological advancements. Hence, challenges of the twenty-first century require leaders and subordinates to communicate in different ways and rethink the way of leading and following. To identify factors influencing the effect of leadership behavior on subordinates’ work-related outcomes, potential moderators and mediators require further clarification.
The focus of this work lies on three distance dimensions: (1) physical distance, (2) relationship quality, and (3) leader-follower interaction frequency. All three factors have been previously applied as influencers in distance leadership research (e.g., Eichenberg, 2007; Howell & Hall-Merenda, 1999; Kacmar, Zivnuska, Witt & Gully, 2003). A theory-informed literature review on (distance) leadership research serves as the foundation for subsequent empirical study.