Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

Ratna Chinnam


Mentoring can enhance an employee's career development and advancement but traditional face-to-face mentoring has become less relevant because of globalization, increased employee mobility and technology-enabled work. A new mentoring model enabled by technology has emerged to meet the needs of today's complex, fast changing global workplace. Although e-mentoring has several advantages over traditional mentoring, the absence of regular face-to-face interactions requires different strategies to develop an effective mentoring relationship. Moreover, additional complexities arise when this virtual mentoring is global.

This research utilizes the construct of virtual distance, the "psychological separation" that has been found to impact performance outcomes of geographically dispersed, technology mediated teams (Sobel Lojeski, 2006; Sobel Lojeski & Reilly, 2008; Sobel Lojeski, 2010) to understand the effectiveness of global e-mentorships. Research results support the hypothesis that virtual distance is negatively related to mentorship effectiveness measured as mentor and mentee satisfaction with mentorship outcomes and perception of impact of mentoring on the mentee's career. Several enablers were also identified as having potential to mitigate virtual distance, thereby improving e-mentorship effectiveness. Three of the four enablers investigated were found to be significant - mentor-mentee matching, mentorship goal clarity and technology usage, defined as partners' access to and comfort with using communication technology. The relationship between cultural intelligence, as measured by Van Dyne et al. (2102) and mentor-mentee matching was investigated given the cross-cultural nature of the e-mentorships and found to be significant. Contrary to hypothesis, trust was not found to moderate the relationship between virtual distance and mentorship effectiveness. However, those mentors and mentees who stayed in contact after the conclusion of the formal mentoring program showed stronger relationships between virtual distance and mentorship effectiveness and partner match and virtual distance. This work makes an important contribution to the literature beyond the application to e-mentoring since one-on-one virtual collaboration is also an essential component of effective e-leadership.