One of the major subtexts from this week’s assignment is the high probability that all of us will need to work in virtual teams after graduation. Kanawattanachai and Yoo (2002) cited the Gartner group’s prediction that ‘ more than 60% of professional workforces in the Global 2000 Company would work in virtual teams’ (p. 42). I don’t have data at hand to see if that has become true a decade later. Certainly, most of my collaborative EFL work is done virtually, and last year, I had a textbook published without ever meeting my co-author once during the duration of writing. Given this subtext, investigating trust and other issues of online collaboration is a worthwhile task.
Gefen et al. (2008) present three dimensions of the construct of trust: integrity, ability, and benevolence (p. 276). They do not elaborate on these, but the first two, having outward expressions in the writings of others, form physical entities that allow for comparison, analysis, and reflection. When I read the postings of others, I am able to form a degree of trust with that text, or conversely, I can decide that the constructs of integrity and ability are low.
The old expression about first impressions must be kept in check in a multicultural online forum such as ours. Trust does build as relationships deepen. Zahedi and Song describe how trust develops in a relationship between consumers and online health care providers (Zahedi & Song), although they do note that not enough is known about the mechanisms of that process (p. 227).
All in all, there’s much to read between the lines in our forums. And I suspect that a lot more needs to be written before trust can fully blossom here. Finally, I’d like to wonder out loud if the 500-word guideline may not actually be a barrier to trust.
Kanawattanachai, P., & Yoo, Y. (2002). Dynamic nature of trust in virtual teams. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 11(3), 187-213.
Gefen, D., Benbasat, I. & Pavlou, P. A. (2008). A research agenda for trust in online environments. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(4). 275-286.
Smith, R. O. (2008). The paradox of trust in online collaborative groups. Distance Education, 29(3), 325-340.
Smith, R. O. (2010). The epistemic challenges, trust and the online collaborative group. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 29(1), 21-44.
Zahedi, F. & Song, J. (2008). Dynamics of trust revision: Using health informediaries. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(4). 225-248.