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Building trust and cohesion in virtual teams: the developmental approach

Luo Lu (Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




Using the developmental process of interpersonal relationships as a metaphor, the purpose of this paper is to examine the mediating effects of trust and cohesion on the links between psychosocial factors and work outcomes among Chinese employees.


A three-wave survey method was used to collect data from 388 full-time employees working in virtual teams in diverse industries in Taiwan.


Structural equation modeling confirmed that trust and cohesion were two key psychological mechanisms linking up team psychosocial factors (i.e. psychological similarity, shared activities) and work outcomes (i.e. job satisfaction, team performance).

Practical implications

This study examined virtual teams, which are increasingly prevalent in cloud computing applications, from a largely overlooked social psychological perspective. The results clearly demonstrated that the development and functioning of work teams is similar to the formation and functioning of social relationships. Thus, psychology in general, social psychology in particular, should have a lot to contribute to the better understanding of the rich dynamism of work teams, virtual and face-to-face.


This is the first study testing a comprehensive model of the process of attraction-identification-trust-performance in the virtual team context with a non-western sample. The unique individual-level analysis underlining the human factors complements more often taken approach of organization- and/or team-level analysis of virtuality tackling structural and strategic issues.



This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Council, Taiwan, ROC, NSC101-2410-H-002-197-MY2.


Lu, L. (2015), "Building trust and cohesion in virtual teams: the developmental approach", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 55-72.



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