CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Trust in Virtual Teams
Article Type: Suggested reading From: Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, Volume 28, Issue 6
Thomas P. Wise, Gower, Price £54.
Virtual teams are becoming an everyday part of organizational life, whether through geographical necessity or through deliberate choice. The growing trend for organization to be agile and lean means that trust and communication become ever-more important. Fragmented teams without trust can never survive in these days of tough competition, and this book aims to show managers how to build and nurture this trust when working with individuals remotely.
There are three parts to the book, which is written by a Professor and Quality Director with over 20 years’ experience in problem-solving and process improvement in industry. Part I is all about understanding what trust is and how it is built. Part II examines elements of virtual team working, while Part III discusses quality assurance issues.
Part I then begins by discussing the whole nature of “trust”, and outlines three types of trust: personality-based trust, cognitive-based trust and institutionally based trust. Personality-based trust is our propensity to trust and is built on the relationship skills we have learned in early life as we learn what trustworthiness actually means. Personality-based trust is what we use when we decide whether to trust another person, and it is a juncture of perceived trustworthiness, the consistency with which the person acts as expected and the relationship with the trusted person.
Cognitive-based trust, however, is a trust that we choose to place in a person, group or program based on information that we have learned from our past. This may include information learned during our years of education and learning. We take our past learning for use in current or similar situations to decide if trust in a reasonable response to the current situation.
Institutional-based trust is somewhat different. Throughout our lives we come into contact with the administration of many different institutions. We learn about what issues of fairness or equity and the marker are of trustworthy organizations. We build our sense of institutional trust based on the treatment we receive in regards to the organizational policies and on how equitable our treatment is when compared to the treatment that others receive.
Personality-based trust is the foundation, or first layer of any trust within an organization, cognitive-based trust depends largely on information access, while institutional-based trust is a corporate issue. Part I of the book ends with a chapter on how to build each of these three important trusts within an organization.
Part II discusses virtual team working in more detail. Elements of virtuality such as the geographic proximity to one another, use of electronically mediated communication and a perception of homogeneity within the team. A portion of this part uses a journal article as a basis for discussing the ways in which managers may best work with virtual teams, while a later chapter addressed how different roles are affected by virtuality. This part ends with a chapter on understanding quality assurance, which seems a little out of place for me, seeing as the last part of the book is devoted to this whole area; this chapter would thus seem to have a better fit in the last part.
Overall, the book is an extremely thorough guide to building trust within virtual teams; it feels like no stone is left unturned in the quest to deliver on what is promised. The tone is readable and fairly light, with plenty to engage the reader: case studies, analogies, personal experiences and figures and diagrams. This is, I think, a book best read through from start to finish rather than dipped in and out of, as later material does build on previous topics.
If you are a manager of virtual teams, this book is essential reading.
Reviewed by Sandi Mann
The review was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 588-589