Purpose: This study attempts to define the meaning of team leadership style and team climate, explore the relationship between leadership style and team climate and that between team climate and team effectiveness, and comprehend the imprints Western management practices and traditional Chinese culture have made on team management since China’s reform and opening up.
Design/Methodology/Approach: Under the guidance of grounded theory, this study conducted multiple-case studies on 13 project management teams. It went through such research stages as data gathering, preliminary interview, formal interview, case data coding and analysis, team effectiveness assessment, and discussion of the relationships among variables and the research model.
Findings: 1. The four major categories of team leadership style give rise to a two-dimensional structure: “overall and long-term objective-oriented task management” and “benevolence- and personal friendship-based relationship management.” 2. Team climate has four major categories: “concerted efforts,” “support for communication,” “learning and aspiring,” and “harmonious relationships.” 3. Team leadership style has an impact on team climate, and team climate has an impact on team effectiveness. 4. Major theories and practices that have influenced team management include management by objective, performance management, communication and learning theory from the West and such elements of management philosophy in traditional Chinese culture as interpersonal relationship, benevolent authority, and the universalization of the concept of family.
Research Limitations and Implications: This study is set in the context of China’s 40 years of reform and opening up and team management practices; the principles underlying team management revealed in this study have cross-cultural explanatory power. Nevertheless, the cross-cultural analysis was limited by the researcher’s personal experience, and the external validity of the findings of the case studies needs to be enhanced.
Practical Implications: The findings of this study offer concrete contents for team training and team climate development and provide criteria and methods for assessing team effectiveness.
Originality/Values: Through empirical multiple-case studies, this study has created a two-layer theoretical framework covering the meanings of and the routes of action among constructs, and revealed the fusion of Chinese and Western management.
Keywords: leadership style, team climate, team effectiveness, Chinese context