Institutional Boundaries and Trust of Virtual Teams in Collaborative Design: An Experimental Study in a Virtual World Environment

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Members of virtual teams often collaborate within and across institutional boundaries. This research investigates the effects of boundary spanning conditions on the development of team trust and team satisfaction. Two hundred and eighty-two participants carried out a collaborative design task over several weeks in a virtual world, Second Life. Multigroup structural equation modeling was used to examine our research model, which compares individual level measurement between two boundary spanning team conditions. The results indicate that trusting beliefs have a positive impact on team trust, which in turn, influences team satisfaction. Further, we found that, compared to cross-boundary teams, within-boundary teams exhibited not only higher trusting beliefs and higher satisfaction with the collaboration process but also a stronger relationship between team trust and team satisfaction. These results suggest that trust and group theories need to be interpreted in light of institutional affiliation and contextual variables. An important practical implication is that trust can be fostered in a virtual world environment and collaboration on complex tasks can be carried out effectively in virtual worlds. However, within-boundary virtual teams are preferred over cross-boundary virtual teams if satisfaction with the collaboration process is of the highest priority.



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