The Level Paradox of E-Collaboration: Dangers and Solutions

The Level Paradox of E-Collaboration: Dangers and Solutions

Ana Ortiz de Guinea (HEC Montréal, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2020-9.ch012
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Abstract

Although e-collaboration phenomena are multilevel in nature, research to date has been conducted from an exclusively single-level focus. This has lead to the level paradox. The dangers of the level paradox are discussed, including the potential that apparent cumulative knowledge may actually be spurious. Solutions to the level paradox are proposed in the form of future opportunities of research from several mixed-level approaches, and the benefits and barriers to mixed-level research are discussed. The article ends with a discussion on the necessity of finding a balance between single-level and mixed-level research, as well as on the necessity of single-level studies explicitly specifying the levels of theory, measurement, and data in their research.
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The Level Paradox In E-Collaboration Research

The level paradox points to the mismatch between the multilevel nature of e-collaboration phenomena and the fact that most research on it is single-level. Before exposing this contradiction, it is important to define the terms that are going to guide the discussion. When we build theories we should specify which entities need to be considered and are involved in the explanation of the phenomenon of interest (Whetten, 1989). Such entities to which research wishes to generalize are the focal units or level of theory (Hitt, Beamish, Jackson, & Mathieu, 2007; Rousseau, 1985). According to Rousseau (1985), two types of levels exist for research on a focal unit: the level of measurement and the level of analysis. The level of measurement represents the unit to which the data are directly attached (Hitt et al., 2007; Rousseau, 1985). In contrast, the level of analysis “is the unit to which the data are assigned for hypothesis testing and statistical analysis” (Rousseau, 1985, p. 4).

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