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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | International Business Communication | 2015
Thesis number: 14552
Trust and communication in a virtual working environment: A case study
Author: Eerikinharju, Meri Meriem
Title: Trust and communication in a virtual working environment: A case study
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; etätyö; remote work; virtuaalitodellisuus; virtual reality; luottamus; trust; tiimityö; team work; organisaatiokulttuuri; organizational culture
Pages: 67
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Key terms: international business communication, trust, virtual working, virtual teams
Objective of the Study This research aimed to discover the importance of trust and communication in a virtual working environment. The case company ABB Oy is an international engineering company and the case team focuses on the service of warranty repairs. This team works virtually daily and communicates through all continents daily. The research questions set were the following: (1) What is the role of trust and communication in a virtual environment? (2) What is the role of trust and communication in a global virtual team? (3) What is the importance of tools provided by the organization? (4) How does language and culture affect the communication? (5) How can global virtual teams work efficiently?

Methodology and the Theoretical Framework This study used qualitative methods, semi-structured interviews to discuss the topics with the interviewees from the case team. Six interviews were conducted all together, including 4 nationalities across 3 continents. Interviews were conducted in English and in Finnish, transcribed then followed by a thematic analysis and finally findings were presented. The theoretical framework was built based on the research questions; on the role of trust in communication and how they both affect each other in the virtually working world, as the objective is to find out the importance of trust and communication in working relationships in the virtual setting.

Findings and Conclusions Findings indicated that trust is indeed one of the most important elements at work place and communication plays a key role in forming relationships and trusting co-workers. Culture was brought up as well, especially when having to consider different habits and norms when working with an international organization such as the case study company. In a virtual setting active communication was considered an element for forming trust relationships at work and the opposite tended to reduce the trustworthiness of the other party. In order to work efficiently virtually, it was highly appreciated that the organization provides appropriate tools that do not slow down the processes.
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