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Modeling and Monitoring Trust in Virtual A/E/C Teams: A Research Proposal

TitleModeling and Monitoring Trust in Virtual A/E/C Teams: A Research Proposal
Publication TypeWorking Paper
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsZolin, R, Levitt, RE, Fruchter, R, Hinds, PJ
Date Published12/2000
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsCenter for Integrated Facility Engineering, CIFE, Communication, E-Commerce, Modeling, Project Teams, Stanford University, Trust, Trust Development
AbstractThis research proposes to develop and test processes, criteria, language, concepts, models and tools that can be used by managers and workers to design, build, maintain, and repair trust in virtual teams. With the trend toward globalization, information technology and E-Commerce services, Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) teams are increasingly more likely to harness globally distributed talent and expertise. To design, plan and build a facility, a large number of individuals from a variety of nationalities, cultures, professional backgrounds, and from many different companies must have enough trust in each other to do their job and trust others to perform theirs. Economists developed agency theory, based on the assumption that "agents" pursue their own goals-i.e., they are not trustworthy-and they need to be incentivized and closely monitored. In contrast, some propose the viewpoint that everyone should be viewed as trustworthy in relationships. Of course, both of these extremes - trusting too little, or trusting too much - can lead to costly failures. Errors in when to trust can result in deadline, budget and quality failures, lost opportunities, increased surveillance, increased stress, divided attention, increased error rates and more rework. Although both business and academia agree that trust is a central issue, little has been done to operationalize the elements of the trust process. Another, perhaps greater problem is finding the language to talk about trust in accurate terms. In English alone, the word trust is used to describe many different concepts, making precise communication about trust impossible. For the purpose of this work, we have developed the following working definition of trust: Trust is the deciding factor in a social process that leads to a decision to accept a risk that another party will meet certain behavioral expectations. The objective of this proposal is to develop and test a model of trust development, maintenance and repair in A/E/C project teams. Future research will be needed to extend our trust research into areas of e-commerce and relationships that extend across organizational boundaries such as the general contractor to subcontractor relationship.
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