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Communication and Trust in Virtual and Face-to-Face Teams
Abstract and Figures
Virtual teams (VTs) accomplish shared goals by relying on technology-mediated communication to counteract geographic disparities. Rapid advances in technology have led to the near-ubiquity of VTs within modern organizations, but gaps in existing research designs afflict extant empirical VT research. This experiment evaluates the constructs of trust, communication, and effectiveness in VTs. Two-hundred six participants (103 teams) completed an interdependent task either face-to-face, mediated by a videoconferencing telepresence robot, or mediated by a voice call. I collected measures of cognitive trust, trust propensity, communication quality, and team effectiveness, and conducted in-depth communication analyses. Results suggest that while virtual teamwork does not result in effectiveness decrements, it does result in team trust decrements, but video teams demonstrated smaller trust decrements than voice-only teams. The expansive communication analyses utilized in the study produced inconclusive findings. Given the large sample size used and the breadth of constructs assessed, this experiment sets a milestone in empirical virtual teamwork research for future work to build upon.
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