Analysis of the Determinants of Initial Trust on a Virtual Leader

Analysis of the Determinants of Initial Trust on a Virtual Leader

Miguel Guinalíu (University of Zaragoza, Spain) and Pau Jordán (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch492
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In order to tackle constant changes in circumstances, organisations are modifying their working structures, making them more flexible and efficient (Cervantes, 2005). These organisations aim to optimise the human factor, since in recent decades it has become a major source of competitiveness (De la Rosa & Carmona, 2010). Among these factors are certain psychological aspects of the employees that can have a significant effect on the team’s performance. One of the most interesting factors is stress (Eliozondo, 2005) since it can reduce the competitiveness of the team. In this respect, the International Labour Organization (ILO) states that the cost of stress, among other factors, accounts for 3 per cent of the European Union’s GDP (International Labour Organization, 2000). This chapter focuses its attention on two types of stress that may have significant influence on team performances that have not been examined in sufficient depth in previous literature: (1) stress derived from working in a team (Akgün, Byrne, Lynn & Keskin, 2007) and (2) stress derived from the intensive use of ICT tools (Bozionelos, 2001).

In addition, more and more companies are running projects in virtual work surroundings. Virtual work teams present a new organisational form in which their members are spread geographically and communication is developed electronically (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). It should be pointed out that stress may be observed in virtual teams as well, since they usually perform high added value tasks, meaning that high standards are expected of them (Sarker & Sahay, 2002).

Another key element in team management is the role of the leader, particularly in virtual teams, where the figure of the manager is considered indispensable for generating satisfactory results (Schepers, de Jong, de Ruyter & Wetzels, 2011). Furthermore, team leadership is closely linked to the development of trust. Kayworth & Leidner (2000) suggest that the leader plays a basic role in the construction of a scenario in which group socialisation and cohesion are fostered as a means of developing trust and establishing relationships between the members. This definition does not reveal in detail the behavioural aspects that may derive from a greater or lesser degree, in our case, of trust in the team leader. That is why we analyse in this research the possible influence of stress regarding the team leader selection intention variable.

It is also important to discover the aspects that may influence the risk levels that team members perceive in projects to be undertaken (Knight, Durham & Locke, 2001), since a high perceived risk may have a negative effect on the team's results (Miller, 1992). In this research we shall value to what extent perceived risk is affected by the degree of stress.

Finally, we should point out that this research refers to the early stages in the life of a team, when the leader and the subordinates are introduced, having had no relationship previously. This is the moment when the first type of trust (initial trust) which the subordinates place in the leader is produced, as the necessary first step for the group’s activities to begin (Hung, Dennis & Robert, 2004). In this respect, the literature recognises the possible existence of high levels of trust in the early stages of the relationship (e.g. Kramer, 1994; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999).

Thus the aim of this chapter is to study the effect of a subordinate's stress in two of its most important aspects: stress in team work and stress in the use of ICT tools, within a purely virtual working environment, and to analyse their influence on:

  • The generation of initial trust in the team leader.

  • The risk perceived by the subordinate in team work.

  • Leader selection intention.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: A leader’s ability to influence his/her subordinates into achieving their goals and objectives.

Virtual Team: A work team performing its tasks off-site who communicate using telematic media.

Risk: Potential profit or loss arising from a transaction.

Stress: The emotional response of an individual when faced with situations perceived as threatening or risky.

Perceived risk: An individual's expectation of loss in the search for an expected result.

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