Trust imageI read an article this week that looked at the determinants of trust in virtual teams. The reprint I was given did not make it clear which journal it is from, but the authors are from two academic institutions in Finland and one in New Zealand – A strange combination!  The work was carried out in 2007.

For me their most interesting findings, which are somewhat contradictory, include:

1)     The more collectivist the culture the more trusting the team will be.  This suggests that collectivist cultures like Japan, Germany or Sweden for example will find virtual team working easier than individualistic cultures like the USA or UK.

2)     The level of trust was independent of the cultural diversity of the team.  So more diverse teams do no better and no worse than homogenous teams.

The researchers had tested seven different hypotheses using a sample of 59 global virtual teams. Here are the hypotheses they tested with respect to the perceived level of trust and what they found out: –

Hypothesis 1.              That in virtual teams comprised of individualists and collectivists there will be a positive relationship between the collectivism levels and trust  – was strongly supported

Hypothesis 2.              There will a negative relationship between cultural diversity and trust – was not supported

Hypothesis 3.              Cultural Diversity will be more important than demographic diversity – was contradicted

Hypothesis 4.              The collectivism level will be more important than the level of cultural diversity  – receives support

Hypothesis 5.              There will be a positive relationship between task interdependence and trust  – receives strong support

Hypothesis 6.              Relationship conflict will be negatively related to trust  – is supported

Hypothesis 7.              Task conflict will be negatively related to trust – is also supported

The research was undertaken by Peter Zettinig (from the Turku School of Economics), Elizabeth Rose (from the Helsinki School of Economics), and by Audra Mockaitis (from the School of Marketing and International Business at Victoria University.

Editors notes: reference for paper

PUB. DATE: August 2009
SOURCE: Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, 2009. P1

About the author:

John Bland As a former Olympian, senior Global Integration Director, John Bland, inspires people to follow their passions and achieve at the very highest levels. He combines this with a vast understanding of cross cultural issues. Company profile: John Bland.

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