The Role of Trust in Building Effective Virtual Teams: A Mixed Methods Study in a Large Public Sector Organization

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Andy Igonor

Committee Member

Eboni Hill

Committee Member

Tim Reymann


This study extended Gehrke Walter’s (2004) research to explore the relationship between trust and perceived team effectiveness, thus identifying factors that might support or damage the development of trust in virtual teams operating within the public sector. For the purposes of this study, the public sector is defined as the part of the economy concerned with providing basic government services. This study utilized a correlational mixed methodology based on a modified version of the virtual team trust instrument (Sarker, Valacich, & Sarker, 2003) and an instrument developed by Lurey and Raisinghani (2001) to measure team effectiveness. To enhance the study, open-ended survey items developed by Walters (2004) were also used to gather much-needed qualitative data to ascertain which factors foster or damage virtual team trust. The results of this study will assist researchers, managers, and team members in understanding the relationship between trust and perceived team effectiveness in virtual teams operating within the public sector—an under-represented area in the study of virtual teams. The results of the study showed a strong relationship between trust and perceived team effectiveness. However, unlike previous studies, one of the subscales of trust was not shown to have a stronger relationship to perceived team effectiveness compared with the others. Recommendations for increasing trust in virtual teams include a re-emphasis on open and honest communication, recurring face-to-face meetings, and demonstrated work performance from the participants. Finally, recommendations for future research related to trust and virtual team effectiveness are presented.