Several factors have been shown to affect how effective virtual teams communicate. One of these factors, trust, has received a great deal of attention by researchers. However, most virtual team members do not receive training on how to effectively communicate and promote trust. Several theories have questioned the ability of computer-mediated systems to aid the development of communication, trust, and other interpersonal attributes that are needed to form successful teams. Some researchers suggest computer-mediated communication does not differ from face-to-face communications in terms of the substance but in terms of a slower rate of transfer. However, most academic virtual teams and many organizational project teams meet over the course of several months and are then disbanded, thereby not having enough time to develop the types of links needed for effective, efficient communication. Our research investigates the impact of training on trust development by tracking trust levels among members of virtual teams in an academic environment. We extend the current research on the use of virtual teams by applying team training and tracking the resulting change in trust.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Member Actions: These actions include coping with technical uncertainty, realizing that downtimes occur, taking individual initiative, and establishing of a team leader. Also includes making a successful transition from social to procedural task focus.
Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs): These systems are used to support meeting and task functions, to display and describe course material to students, to distribute and share notes among students, and to support team interaction.
Virtual Teams: These are teams that are geographically distributed and communicate via Internet communication technologies, and many times never or rarely meet face-to-face.
Face-to-Face: Interactions among team members whereby they are in the same place at the same time and can physically see each other.
Communication Behaviors: Includes social communication such as introductions and telling other team members a bit about yourself. Also includes establishing predictable communication patterns and making sure members agree to timely and substantial responses.
Trust: Willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party, based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party.
Distance Classes: Classes in which all class materials are online, there are no FTF classes, and most students are remote and may never directly see or talk to the other students.