<ul><li>Jessica Kleppang </li></ul><ul><li>Ithaca College </li></ul><ul><li>Fall 2008 </li></ul>The Role of Trust and Leadership in Virtual Teams: An Examination of Current Research
Introduction <ul><li>The use of computer-mediated technologies has begun to support a new type of work group within organizations, the virtual team. </li></ul><ul><li>This emergence of virtual teams has initiated many research studies aimed at discovering the challenges, as well as benefits, to virtual teamwork. </li></ul><ul><li>This research has led to the development of several different theories and models about virtual team trust and leadership. </li></ul><ul><li>These many, sometimes similar, views can lead to confusion in an organization wanting to implement such teams. </li></ul><ul><li>The following are the results of an analysis of the current research on virtual team trust and leadership; this analysis examined disagreements among the virtual team literature. The aim was to create a set of best practices that are supported by the research. </li></ul>
Definition and Description <ul><li>A Virtual team is a group of employees from different locations that work interdependently across time, space, and sometimes organizational boundaries via technology. Virtual team members can be expected to share information, brainstorm, find solutions, and often to produce reports or products. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual Team Communication Technologies: </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Webinars </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion boards </li></ul><ul><li>Teleconferencing </li></ul><ul><li>IM </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>RSS feeds </li></ul><ul><li>Video teleconferencing </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul><ul><li>Other online collaboration websites </li></ul>
Benefits & Challenges <ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>“ Virtual teams have access to specialized expertise across geographical boundaries, they are poised to develop better-informed and more creative solutions to complex, often global organizational problems” (Malhotra, Majchrzak, & Rosen, 2007, p. 68). </li></ul><ul><li>Types of Benefits: Travel cost savings, skill based teams, ability to work around the clock </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict in virtual teams “may be exacerbated by communication delays, time zone differences, and lack of face-to-face contact due to space-time dispersion. These factors may hinder development of understanding and relationships among members” (Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei, 2006, p. 238). </li></ul><ul><li>Types of Conflict: Relationship & Task </li></ul>
Trust Trust motivates employees to effectively collaborate, brainstorm, and solve problems; “ trust reduces ambiguity and uncertainty in social perceptions so cooperative or productive activity can take place ” (Jarvenpaa et al., 2004, p. 252).
Competing Trust Theories <ul><li>Media Richness & Social Presence Theories: “computer-based communication media may eliminate the type of communication cues that individuals use to convey trust, warmth, attentiveness, and other interpersonal affections” (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999, p. 793). </li></ul><ul><li>Social Information Processing (SIP) & </li></ul><ul><li>Social Identification/Deindividuation (SIDE): “computer-mediated communication does not differ from face-to-face communication in terms of the capability of social information exchange, but rather in terms of a slower rate of transfer” (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999, p. 793). </li></ul><ul><li>Of the many research studies analyzed, all evidence maintained the ideas of the SIP and SIDE theories. </li></ul>
Ways to Establish Trust <ul><li>1. Relationship building </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship building is simply the process of creating and maintaining personal and work relationships with other members of the group. Successful virtual teams are “focused specifically on building relationships to increase trust and develop shared views” (Kelley, 2001, p. 132). </li></ul><ul><li>One model that illustrates the best way to build relationships is the team performance model (TPM). The TPM “represents a macroview of the meeting process and can be used from the moment teams are formed. This model summarized the basic dynamics of teams and involves even stage. Each stage provides an important step in the team-building process” (Warkentin & Beranek, 1999, p. 275). </li></ul>
Team Performance Model (TPM) Adapted from Warkentin, M., & Beranek, P. M. (1999).
Ways to Establish Trust <ul><li>2. Identification </li></ul><ul><li>Identification: “a person’s sense of belonging with a social category. Individuals use social categories to define themselves in terms of perceived shared similarities with members of their group in contrast to other social categories” (Fiol & O’Connor, 2005, p. 19). In order for identification to occur, the members must be motivated to belong to the virtual team. A way to motivate members to feel like they belong is through uncertainty reduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty Reduction Techniques: information sharing, members making an effort of understand each other, and high levels of member responsiveness, clarity of members’ roles. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Team Practices </li></ul><ul><li>A successful virtual team will have a set of team practices. </li></ul><ul><li>Practices: experimentation, routines of discussion or norms of communication, clearly defined goals, positive feedback, supportive discussion space and accountability. </li></ul>
Leadership Important to all groups, whether they be virtual or not, is leadership. Leaders are more than just those who are in charge of the group; a leader must identify problems, conflicts, and solutions.
Supported Leadership Theory <ul><li>Behavioral Complexity Theory: “effective leadership may be a function of the manager’s ability to display a varied and complex set of behavioral repertories in response to complex organizational circumstances… effective leaders must be able to deal with paradox and contradiction by performing multiple leadership roles simultaneously” (Kayworth & Lediner, 2002, p. 12). </li></ul>
Effective Leadership Behaviors and Activities <ul><li>Effective Leader Behaviors: Supporting actions (such as training), responsiveness, giving of feedback, precise communications, clarification of roles, understanding and assertiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>Other Activities: Establish and maintain trust, manage the virtual work-cycle and any meetings, supervise team progress with the aid of technology, develop external visibility of the team and team members, and make sure that individual’s benefit form their participation in the team. </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>The establishment of trust and effective leadership are two activities that will help organizations establish successful virtual teams. Organizations must keep in mind that teams are made up of individuals with differing views, culture backgrounds, and technical knowledge. Some individuals just may not be suited for virtual teamwork, so pick team members carefully and with caution. The right members, with the right skills and knowledge are out there, use computer mediated technology to unite them and see how successful a virtual team can be. </li></ul>
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