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Global Virtual Teams. How the Usage of New Information and Communication Technologies can Enhance Trust in Global Virtual Teams

A Theoretical Investigation

Hausarbeit 2018 28 Seiten

Führung und Personal - Sonstiges


Table of Content

II Table of Figures

1 Introduction and relevance of the topic
1.1 Research questions and structure of the paper
1.2 Research method and topics demarcation

2 Strategic importance of global virtual teams
2.1 Definition of global virtual teams
2.2 The strategic importance of global virtual teams based on mega trends

3 Trust as the main challenge in global virtual teams
3.1 Models of trust
3.2 Why gaining trust is difficult in global virtual teams

4 Building trust in global virtual teams through modern communication and information technologies
4.1 Communication behaviors that build trust in global virtual teams
4.2 Information and communication technologies that build trust in global virtual teams

5 Implications for Human Resources to enhance trust in global virtual teams

6 Conclusion and recommendations for further research

IV Table of references

II Table of figures

Fig. 1: Success factors of global virtual teams

Fig. 2: Structure of the paper and research questions

Fig. 3: Process of narrative literature review

Fig. 4: Importance of challenges in different regions

Fig. 5: Millennials´ opinion about working remotely

Fig. 6: Proposed Model of Trust

Fig. 7: Barriers affecting the creation of swift trust in virtual teams

Fig. 8: The change in team trust over time

Fig. 9: The iceberg model of Web 2.0

Fig. 10: Old values are changing

1 Introduction and relevance of the topic

“What we do know is that in 2020 work will have left the building. Synchronicity and co-location are being turned on their head by new generations and new technology. People will no longer need an office, we will connect virtually, the type of work we do will change and the way we interact and depend upon computers will experience a step change to. What we do know is that this will happen. What we don´t know is how quickly it will happen or what the consequences are.” [1]

Tidd´s citation summarizes current megatrends that influence markets and organizations. Globalization, flexibilization, decentralization and networking are all buzzwords that change our workplaces into work 4.0.[2] Deloitte´s recent Global Human Capital Trends Surveys from 2016 and 2018 describe the trends of self-organized networks and hyper-connected workplaces, as well as digital HR and recommends that organizations have to redesign their work environment with HR as creator to facilitate collaboration across company boundaries.[3] [4]

Global virtual teams (hereafter: GVTs) are one way, to respond to those trends and stay competitive.[5] Several surveys indicate, how ubiquitous global virtual teamwork is. A survey from 2016 included 1,372 respondents from 80 countries. 85% of those indicated that they already worked in GVTs.[6] To be successful, these teams depend on diverse factors, as can be seen in figure 1.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 1: Success factors of global virtual teams.[7]

One of the main difference between GVTs and co-located teams is the interaction through information and communication technologies (hereafter: ICTs).[8] The most important success factor, yet biggest challenge for those teams is to develop mutual trust.[9] This paper will connect both success factors to find out, how trust can be built through the appropriate usage of cutting-edge ICTs. How to build trust is one of the most researched topics in the GVT literature.[10] In addition, scholars already included trust-formation through communication in their research.[11] However, they have not broadened their research to emerging ICTs, like Web 2.0 or virtual rooms yet. Scholars annotate critically that even though those technologies are already used in practice, “research appears not to be keeping up with practice.”[12] Regarding 3D virtual environments like virtual rooms, only five articles were found by Gilson et al. and the content was rather generic. Additionally, social networks, which are broadly used in practice, have yet not been focused within the scientific literature. The scholars recommend to addressing these topics in future research.[13] Therefore, this paper starts to fill this scientific gap by developing assumptions regarding the formation of trust through new ICTs within GVTs, based on theoretical background. The results can be used for further research that verifies these assumptions practically through experiments.

1.1 Research questions and structure of the paper

The main goal of this paper is to analyze how modern ICTs as well as communication behavior can enhance trust within GVTs. To set the frame and emphasize the relevance of GVTs for organizations and Human Resource (hereafter: HR) departments, chapter 2 begins with a short definition of GVTs and their strategic importance based on current mega trends. In chapter 3, trust, as the main topic will be discussed. Starting with a short introduction, Mayer et al.´s Proposed Model of Trust will form the theoretical basis and swift trust, which is a typical form of trust in GVTs, will be defined. Moreover, it will be illustrated, why gaining trust is such a challenge for GVTs. Chapter 4 analyzes, how trust can be developed using modern ICTs. Communication behavior that enhances trust will be considered and finally the cutting-edge ICTs Web 2.0 and virtual rooms will be presented and evaluated regarding their potential to build trust within GVTs. With HR as the main target group of this paper, chapter 5 gives implications for how HR can enhance trust within GVTs by providing the right technical framework and, on a more strategic level, change the organizational culture and drive the digital transformation. Finally, chapter 6 summarizes the key aspects of this paper and gives implications for further research. Figure 2 gives an overview of the research questions that will be answered within the different chapters.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 2: Structure of the paper and research questions.[14]

1.2 Research method and topics demarcation

This theoretical paper is based on a narrative literature review and builds hypotheses based on existing research and theories to offer a basis for further research.[15] [16] The research process, literature sources and searched teams are illustrated in figure 3. Except the literature that was used for the theoretical basis, the researched articles do pre-date the year 2004, however, the majority of used literature does not pre-date the year 2011 to cover the latest scientific findings.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 3: Process of narrative literature review.[17]

This paper will only answer the abovementioned research questions with the intent to find out how trust can be developed in GVTs through modern ICTs. Except trust and ICTs no other challenges or success factors of GVTs will be addressed. GVTs can appear in various forms of virtual or real-life interaction, some of them still have limited face-to-face contact[18], whereas others totally rely on ICTs.[19] Since this paper focusses on the virtual interaction via ICTs, only GVTs that exclusively interact virtually are in scope of this paper. Additionally, the history of GVTs, what kind of leadership style is applicable, or under which circumstances they are useful, will not be discussed. The main target groups of this paper are HR on the practical side and scholars on the scientific side. Therefore, practical implications for HR will be given. No practical recommendations for leaders of GVTs will be included. This paper does not include self-conducted experiments and can therefore only be used as a theoretical basis for further research.

2 Strategic importance of global virtual teams

The following chapter will set the stage concerning GVTs and their strategic importance for organizations. First, a short definition of GVTs will be given. Then, current mega trends will be presented to emphasize the necessity of GVTs and how their work is influenced by changing work environments and technologies.

2.1 Definition of global virtual teams

In the literature, global virtual teams are defined as a group of at least two geographically dispersed members who work interdependently across time zones, space and/or organizational boundaries and collaborate via digital ICTs to complete an organizational task. Depending on their dispersion, they are more or less culturally diverse.[20] [21] Mostly, GVTs are gathered to accomplish a specific project only[22] and therefore, often work together for a limited time-span.[23] Synonyms that are used in the literature are virtual project teams, or on a broader level, virtual organizations.[24] Their way to work can be defined as rather self-directed and self-controlled than authoritarian and externally controlled.[25]

2.2 The strategic importance of global virtual teams based on mega trends

Global organizations are currently in a state of radical change. Due to proceeding global distribution of organizations as well as emerging technologies and tools for social collaboration, GVTs became a vital success factor for many multinational companies.[26] In Deloitte´s Global Human Capital Trends Survey of 2016, 92% of more than 7,000 respondents worldwide ranked the organizational design “network of teams” as highest priority, as can be seen in Figure 4.[27]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig. 4: Importance of challenges in different regions[28]

The shift from traditionally and functionally structured organizations towards collaborative, flexible and interconnected teams[29] is still a recent trend in Deloitte´s survey of 2018. To stay competitive, companies need to become hyper-connected workplaces which globally link their most suitable knowledge workers who are close to different markets and, by pushing decision-making in lower hierarchies, give them the autonomy to react quickly. An adaption of team management, employee-development, as well as the advancement of collaboration via new communication tools and work-based social media platforms is necessary to change the organizational design.[30] [31] Even though, the availability of technology and social collaboration tools are not a new trend, the extension of cheaper and cutting-edge devices changed over time and influence the modern workplace positively resulting in a new way of work, where physical presence is no longer required.[32] [33] Due to technological development, dispersed teams are now able to access information and collaborate professionally and socially on a 24/7 basis and moreover, the collaboration-platforms are easier to use than before.[34] [35]

Besides the abovementioned mega trends, there are other influential trends that support the strategic importance of GVTs. To attract and retain a wide range of talented employees within the demographic change and war for talents, global companies need to address employees from all ages. On the one side, models need to be family-friendly and age-appropriate to attract aging staff[36]. One the other side, global companies have to attract Millennials, who ask for more work-flexibility. According to The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey (see figure 5), 75% of the 7.700 interviewed Millennials from 29 countries would like to work remotely, with only 43% of them having the opportunity to do so.[37] Since GVTs offer that kind of flexibility and enhanced work-life-balance[38], they can offer a competitive advantage for multinational companies by attracting this target-group.[39] Besides the flexibility, employees can benefit from other advantages that are connected to virtual decentralized teams, for instance, flat hierarchies[40], increased opportunities to make their own decisions[41] and self-organization.[42] The abovementioned trends can be summed up as work 4.0 in which HR will be the main enabler for the needed digital transformation and cultural change.[43]


[1] Tidd, cited in de Kare-Silver [2016], p.65.

[2] cf. Schwuchow/Gutmann [2017], p.255f.

[3] cf. Global Human Capital Trends Deloitte [2017], p.6.

[4] cf. Global Human Capital Trends Deloitte [2018], p.9.

[5] cf. Hertel/Konradt [2007], p.1.

[6] cf. RW3 LLC CultureWizard [2016], p.3.

[7] cf. own graphic based on Akin [2013](a), p.17.

[8] cf. Snellman [2013], p.1251.

[9] cf. Akin/Rumpf [2013](a), p.19ff.

[10] cf. Gilson et al. [2014], p.9.

[11] cf. Jarvenpaa/Leidner [1999], p. 794ff.

[12] Gilson et al. [2014], p.14.

[13] cf. Gilson et al. [2014], p.14f.

[14] own graphic [2018].

[15] cf. Döring/Bortz [2016], p. 145.

[16] cf. Baumeister/Leary [1997], p. 311f.

[17] own graphic [2018].

[18] cf. Dulebohn/Hoch [2017], p. 569.

[19] cf. Snellman [2014], p. 1255.

[20] cf. Dulebohn/Hoch [2017], p. 569.

[21] cf. Ford/Piccolo/Ford [2016], p.26.

[22] cf. Germain/McGuire [2014], p.357.

[23] cf. Webber [2008], p.751.

[24] cf. Snellman [2013], p.1255.

[25] cf. Hung/Alan/Lionel [2004], p.1.

[26] cf. Ouye [2011], p. 1.

[27] cf. Bersin et al. [2016], p. 4.

[28] Bersin et al. [2016], p. 10.

[29] cf. Bersin et al. [2016], p.4.

[30] cf. Ouye [2011], p. 2.

[31] cf. Abbatiello et al. [2018], p.9.

[32] cf. Hofmann [2013], p. 218.

[33] cf. Gutmann/Schwuchow [2017], p.255.

[34] cf. Akin/Rumpf [2013](b), p.376.

[35] cf. Ouye [2011], p.3.

[36] cf. Akin/Rumpf [2013](b), p.375f.

[37] cf. Deloitte [2016], p.22.

[38] cf. Liao [2016], p.648

[39] cf. Ouye [2011], p.6f.

[40] cf. Akin/Rumpf [2013](a), p.8.

[41] cf. Hoch/Kozlowski [2012], p.393.

[42] cf. von der Oelsnitz/Staiger [2017], p.259.

[43] cf. Schwuchow/Gutmann [2017], p.255f.


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Hochschule Fresenius; Hamburg
global virtual teams usage information communication technologies enhance trust theoretical investigation




Titel: Global Virtual Teams. How the Usage of New Information and Communication Technologies can Enhance Trust in Global Virtual Teams