Does trust matter more in virtual teams? A meta-analysis of trust and team effectiveness considering virtuality and documentation as moderators

J Appl Psychol. 2016 Aug;101(8):1151-77. doi: 10.1037/apl0000113. Epub 2016 May 26.


Team trust has often been discussed both as requirement and as challenge for team effectiveness, particularly in virtual teams. However, primary studies on the relationship between trust and team effectiveness have provided mixed findings. The current review summarizes existing studies on team trust and team effectiveness based on meta-analytic methodology. In general, we assumed team trust to facilitate coordination and cooperation in teams, and therefore to be positively related with team effectiveness. Moreover, team virtuality and documentation of interactions were considered as moderators of this relationship because they should affect perceived risks during teamwork. While team virtuality should increase, documentation of interaction should decrease the relationship between team trust and team effectiveness. Findings from 52 studies with 54 independent samples (representing 12,615 individuals in 1,850 teams) confirmed our assumptions. In addition to the positive overall relationship between team trust and team effectiveness criteria (ρ = .33), the relationship between team trust and team performance was stronger in virtual teams (ρ = .33) as compared to face-to-face teams (ρ = .22), and weaker when team interactions were documented (ρ = .20) as compared to no such documentation (ρ = .29). Thus, documenting team interactions seems to be a viable complement to trust-building activities, particularly in virtual teams. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Telecommunications*
  • Trust*