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Development of interorganizational trust in virtual organizations: An integrative framework

Debmalya Mukherjee (College of Business Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Robert W. Renn (Fogelman College of Business and Economics, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Ben L. Kedia (Robert Wang Center for International Business Education and Research, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Deepraj Mukherjee (Department of Business, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, USA)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 27 April 2012




A virtual organization (VO) is a set of geographically dispersed and functionally diverse organizational entities interconnected by electronic forms of communication that cooperate with one another for a common valued outcome. The objective of this article is to propose a research framework that illustrates the development of trust between VOs.


This paper provides an overview of literature on VOs, identifies antecedents of trustworthiness in virtual environment, explores the role of boundary spanners' interpersonal trust, and relates them to inter‐VO trust formation. A research analysis is developed that depicts the proposed relationships.


The propositions shed light on the overall interorganizational trust building process in VOs. In doing so, the framework also acknowledges the role of individual boundary spanners of a trustor organization in the trust development process.


Systematic scholarly research relating to VOs has been somewhat limited. With the emergence of VOs as important organizational forms, there is an increasing need to comprehend how interorganizational trust is developed and maintained in VOs. This study attempts to fill this gap in the extant literature by exploring how social exchange factors in a virtual context relate to factors of organizational trustworthiness of the trustee organization. In addition, this paper also investigates the key role played by the boundary spanners of both organizations in the trust formation process.



Mukherjee, D., Renn, R.W., Kedia, B.L. and Mukherjee, D. (2012), "Development of interorganizational trust in virtual organizations: An integrative framework", European Business Review, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 255-271.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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