Communication, Trust and Leadership in Virtual Organizations and Teams


Collaboration and cooperation are essential to innovation and knowledge creation, and virtual teams are a valuable tool for such collaborations. Characteristic features of virtual teams, such as the dispersion and diversity of team members and the reliance on information and communication technology rather than direct interaction, are advantageous but also pose challenges. The purpose of this project is to examine what enables teams to best meet these challenges. We use the concept of trust as an organizing principle for understanding how technostructural and social-psychological factors affect the behavior in virtual teams.

Project Goal

These studies should yield insight into the development and role of social bonds in virtual teams and the interplay between social dynamics and technostructural factors. Findings will inform literatures on leadership and group dynamics, the management of virtual organizations and information technology. Findings will also provide practical insights into how to design virtual teams and organizations to better enable collaboration and innovation. The methodology involving MMOGs is itself an innovative contribution to both science and practice, as it demonstrates a new platform for conducting social science research and provides insight into using virtual games for leadership and team development.


The setting for this research is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). Since skills required in such games are similar to those required in work organizations, MMOGs are not only useful for the study of virtual teams but is in itself a valuable education and professional development tool. Travian Games, a designer of MMOGs, has provided unique access to conduct experiments, collect behavioral data, and administer surveys. The research team will pursue two empirical investigations: a series of experiments and a large-scale correlational study involving multi-level, longitudinal data.

Project Team

Prof. Dr. Isabell M. Welpe
Marcus A. Drescher
Chair of Strategy and Organization, TUM School of Management

Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Arnold Picot
Institute for Information, Organization and Management, Munich School of Management

Prof. M. Audrey Korsgaard
Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, USA

Prof. Sophia Soyoung Jeong
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof. Rolf T. Wigand
Department of Information Science and Department of Management, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA

Project Sponsors

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany
National Science Foundation, USA
Chair of Strategy and Organization, TUM School of Management
Institute for Information, Organization and Management, Munich School of Management


since 2007