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Impact of Trust on Communication in Global Virtual Teams

Päivi Lohikoski, Jaakko Kujala, Harri Haapasalo, Kirsi Aaltonen and Leena Ala-Mursula
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Päivi Lohikoski: Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Jaakko Kujala: Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Harri Haapasalo: Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Kirsi Aaltonen: Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Leena Ala-Mursula: Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

International Journal of Knowledge-Based Organizations (IJKBO), 2016, vol. 6, issue 1, 1-19

Abstract: This study aims to research the impact of impersonal and interpersonal trust on communication among virtual teams. A multi-method case study was conducted, with data provided by 94 organisation members in a global telecommunication company with a long history of virtual ways of working. The case study consisted of semi-structured interviews, an electronic survey, focus group interviews and document reviews. The main finding is that impersonal trust is essential for the development of interpersonal trust in virtual teams (VTs) and for communication among VTs. Furthermore, strong interpersonal affective trust among employees within each site negatively affects VTs' communication. This study suggests that the role of impersonal trust is more significant in virtual organisations than in regular organisations because impersonal trust acts as an enabler for the development of interpersonal trust and affects communication in VTs at a fundamental level. Results from previous studies are contradictory. Theoretically, the field of communication and trust in virtual teams is still in its infancy. This paper is a thorough multi-method study about the impact of impersonal and interpersonal trust on communication.

Date: 2016
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