Role of Trust in Virtual and Co-Located Communities of Practice
Jawwad Z. Raja (Royal Holloway University of London, UK), Anzela Huq (Royal Holloway University of London, UK) and Duska Rosenberg (Royal Holloway University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2006
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become popular in enabling organisations to work virtually, allowing them to organise and leverage their human assets in new ways. Numerous advantages are offered to organisations in the virtual world, including the ability to bridge time and space, and utilisation of distributed human resources without physical relocation of employees (Lipnack & Stamps, 2000). However, flexibility for organisations also comes with many challenges due to its own inherent characteristics. With the separation in time and space, possibly no history of working together, and communication options that are limited, working virtually can lead to undesired outcomes. There are many fundamental factors that not only drive knowledge sharing and transfer in virtual communities, but are believed to be important in their success and failure. One of these fundamental factors is trust. The literature on trust in co-located environments suggests that the establishment of trust is of importance in the working relationship (e.g., Mayer, Davis & Schoorman, 1995). Furthermore, it is argued that trust also leads to more open communication, cooperation, and a higher quality of decision making and risk taking (Lane & Bachmann, 2000). Lipnack and Stamps (2000) argue that the success of sharing and transferring knowledge virtually begins with trust, since trust functions as a mechanism to hold individuals together. The aim of this article is to discuss types of trust and explain mechanisms of trust development in light of research on organisational dynamics. Although there is little standardisation in the trust literature, this article will attempt to critically assess contributions to the debate, illustrating points through references to communities of practice.