The Mediating Effect of Interpersonal Trust on Virtual Team's Collaboration

The Mediating Effect of Interpersonal Trust on Virtual Team's Collaboration

Kauffmann David (Faculty of Engineering, Jerusalem College of Technology, Jerusalem, Israel) and Carmi Golan (Faculty of Management, Jerusalem College of Technology, Jerusalem, Israel)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2017070102


This article examines the relationship between task-communication and five collaborative processes by exploring the mediating effect of interpersonal trust in a virtual team's environment. A multiple mediation model was developed to examine this relationship where cognitive-based trust and affective-based trust are defined as mediation variables between task-communication and the five processes of collaboration. The main results of this study show a significant correlation with a large effect size between task communication, trust and collaboration. Also, interpersonal trust is playing an important role as a mediating element in the relationship between task communication and collaboration. This is where the emotional side of trust is no less important than the rational side, if not even more, in some collaborative processes.
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Literature Review

There are several definitions in the literature for virtual teams. Virtual teams have been commonly defined as functioning teams that rely on ICT-mediation that crosses several boundaries (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Kirkman et al., 2002; Peters & Manz, 2007; Ebrahim, Ahmed, & Taha, 2009). It is widely agreed by scholars, that the main element that defines virtual teams is its composition of individuals who communicate and are dispersed across space, time, and/or organizational boundaries (Peñarroja et al., 2015; Huang, 2010). Thus, a working definition of virtual teams is distributed work teams whose members are geographically dispersed and coordinate their work predominantly with electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs) (Hertel, Geister, & Konradt, 2005).

Duarte and Snyder (2011) identified communication and collaboration as two of the most important factors in teams’ success. Schultze and Orlikowski (2010) noted that the virtual setting has been shown to be a promising and powerful environment for team performance. However, virtual teams, because of distances separating the team members, need to develop ways to create successful collaboration. The availability of e-collaboration tools, such as social networks, wiki, and collaborative sharing files (e.g., Google Docs and Office 365), video conference (e.g., Skype) can contribute to this effort (Hosley, 2010; Kauffmann & Carmi, 2014).

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