Trust in Virtual Teams: A Multidisciplinary Review and Integration

Janine Viol Hacker, Michael Johnson, Carol Saunders, Amanda L. Thayer


Organizations have increasingly turned to the use of virtual teams (VTs) to tackle the complex nature of today’s organizational issues. To address these practical needs, VTs researchers from different disciplines have begun to amass a large literature. However, the changing workplace that is becoming so reliant on VTs comes with its own set of management challenges, which are not sufficiently addressed by current research on VTs. Paradoxically, despite the challenges associated with technology in terms of its disruption to trust development in VTs, trust is one of the most promising solutions for overcoming myriad problems. Though the extant literature includes an abundance of studies on trust in VTs, a comprehensive multidisciplinary review and synthesis is lacking. Addressing this gap, we present a systematic theoretical review of 124 articles from the disparate, multidisciplinary literature on trust in VTs. We use the review to develop an integrated model of trust in VTs. Based on our review, we provide theoretical insights into the relationship between virtuality and team trust, and highlight several critical suggestions for moving this literature forward to meet the needs of workplaces of the future, namely: better insight into how trust evolves alongside the team’s evolution, clarity about how to adequately conceptualize and operationalize virtuality, and greater understanding about how trust might develop differently across diverse types of virtual contexts with various technology usages. We conclude with guidelines for managing VTs in the future workplace, which is increasingly driven and affected by changing technologies, and highlight important trends to consider.

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Virtual teams; Trust; Swift trust; Virtuality; Team processes

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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