The Affects of Behaviour Control Mechanisms On Trust In Virtual Teams

One of the biggest concerns that virtual teams face on a day-to-day basis is open, understood, and positive communication. In fact, it’s this very difficulty that creates some of the biggest problems for virtual teams. In this thesis by Owen Lyndon, the effects of monitoring and controlling on trust within a virtual team. The findings are not altogether surprising though they are very interesting: behavioural control mechanisms do in fact have a negative affect on trust in virtual teams. The sprawling paper explains how email communications led to corrective, incongruent, confrontational, and emotive responses between virtual teams. The findings lead the researcher to create a new term, “Negative Escalation”, wherein email communication is used to incriminate or blame. As the thesis describes: One of the key findings in the primary data is the existence of what this researcher has coined “Negative Escalation”. Negative Escalation occurs when traditional email escalation is misused for the specific purpose of incriminating or blaming another. The purpose of the email is malicious by nature and intended to ensure the recipient is chastised or intimidated into capitulating on a particular issue of contention between the two parties. Email is the media for capturing Negative Escalation as it provides a documented copy of the ‘conversation’ and is easier to escalate than say, a telephone call. The research as a whole demonstrates an interesting investigation of how attempts to control behavior in virtual teams plays out in a real life situation. Anyone attempting to manage virtual teams would do well to learn as much as possible from this document.

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