To read this content please select one of the options below:

The role of trust climate in virtual teams

Taiga Brahm (Institute for Business Education and Educational Management, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)
Florian Kunze (Institute for Leadership and Human Resource Management, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 10 August 2012




Research testing a complex process model, incorporating moderating and mediating mechanisms associated with virtual team (VT) performance, remains rare. This paper aims to introduce trust climate as a crucial boundary condition for high performance in VTs. It also aims to propose a moderated‐indirect model such that the relationship between team goals and task performance is mediated by task cohesion and the relationship between team goals and task cohesion is moderated by trust.


Hypotheses are tested using a longitudinal design with a sample of 50 teams.


The proposed moderated‐indirect model is confirmed. The model explains the indirect relationship between team goal setting and performance transmitted through task cohesion, which is dependent on the level of trust climate.

Research limitations/implications

Although hypotheses were tested in a longitudinal setting, common source bias might be a potential problem for some of the observed relationships. Future research could build on this model for further investigations on more complex theoretical models for VT performance.

Practical implications

This research suggests that managers should emphasize the development of team trust at early stages of collaboration in a VT to reach high performance outcomes.

Societal implications

For VTs, trustful working environments should become even more important in the future, supporting team members' satisfaction in working in VTs.


Through this study, a complex process model for VTs was developed and trust climate established as a prominent context factor for VT success.



Brahm, T. and Kunze, F. (2012), "The role of trust climate in virtual teams", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 595-614.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles