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How teams work
How teams work

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5.3.1 Swift trust

In a seminal paper on the subject of trust in global virtual teams, written by Jarvenpaa and Leidner (1999), they quote a paper by Nohiria and Eccles (1992), who argue that ‘face-to-face encounters are considered irreplaceable for both building trust and repairing shattered trust’. In contrast, Lipnack and Stamps (2000) are more upbeat on the possibility of building trust online, preferring to consider that trust can be built more quickly face-to-face than at a distance.

This leads to the concept of swift trust, which refers to the way that virtual teams can work together fairly quickly once they are able to develop trust between team members. Swift trust is important because virtual teams are often put together for short-term task working before being disbanded and re-formed with different team members for another task. The ‘crisis’ element of the work means that there may be little time available to achieve the objectives set.

Not surprisingly, if group members have worked together before this helps to establish swift trust. Cooperation and trust can also be improved if members make a tangible contribution early on, such as a fast response to messages or the prompt completion of a task.