Perceived organizational climate & interpersonal trust among virtual workers.

AuthorBirdie, Arvind Kaur

Growing number of organizations explored the virtual environment as a means to achieve increased responsiveness. Use of virtual teams appears to be on the rise. The present study explores the relationship between perceived organizational climate and interpersonal trust among virtual workers. The sample consisted of 100 virtual workers working in different organizations in Delhi-NCR. A correlation based research design was employed. The correlation between overall perceived organization climate and trust has been found insignificant among virtual workers. However, perceived organizational climate's domains like performance standards, conflict resolution, reward system and identity problems are found positively correlated with trust in an organization.


As technology advanced and liberalization came in the early nineties in India, not only it changed individual's lifestyle to a large extent but it also brought the world closer. This globalization has brought a big change in organizations also. Virtual working is one of them.

The radical change in the market took place due to liberalization, globalization and technological advances by the effect of which customers can get a product made in America or anywhere in the world and survive in a local market where businesses are expanding. India's growth story shows that those who embraced change post-1991 had not only survived but excelled. With globalization, organizations are becoming more service oriented with the help of fast technology which has metamorphosed the work culture and the work setting. If a customer in Jaipur wishes to buy a book from the US or New Delhi, he/she does not have to go to America or New Delhi, and probably not even to a bookshop in Jaipur. With a click on the website selling books, the person can receive it within 24 hrs at home itself. Globalization and advancement in technology has influenced organizational structure and culture. As a result globalization has become a big challenge says organization behavior experts.

Cultural, geographic, and time differences make it challenging for a leader to provide structure to followers, evaluate their performance, inspire and develop them and enable them to identify with the organization. Organizational behaviorists have helped to provide new alternative work arrangements to today's workforce. This workforce is very different and sounds interesting. Here the individual works from anywhere e.g., while travelling, visiting customer etc. In all the cases, the worker remains linked electronically with the home and office.

The numbers of workers who are telecommuting are growing by the day, with organizations such as Cisco reporting that more than 50% of their workers telecommute at least part of the time. Many organizations like IBM embraces virtual work not only as a means of helping employees with work- life balance issues, but also for bottom line interests.

The Virtual Model- Organization

One model that looks increasingly robust in difficult times is the virtual model-organization that orchestrates the activities of many independent actors rather than owning, employing and controlling lots of people. The major virtue of virtuality is that, if it is done right, it creates truly agile organizations well equipped to negotiate the crumbling markets of recession (Birkinshaw, 2010).

Drori, Meyer and Hwang (2006) conceive the organizations as a reflecting model of their environment. Today the information based organizations are becoming a reality. In fact, Bell and Kozlowski (2002) maintain that virtual teams will play a key role in the design of organizations in the new millennium. For multinational companies and organizations who work across the borders cost cutting is one of the issues. With increasing efficiencies in terms of customer focus, this might be proving profitable as in the case of IBM which reports firm estimates that $ 100+million are saved each year. However, from the psychological perspective whether this concept of virtual working creates organizations where people perceive their organizational climate as positive and whether they can form the kind of trusting relationships with others in the office setting while formal and informal meetings (including gossips) are going on as virtuality.

Lipnack and Stamps (1997) stated that managing a successful virtual company requires 90% people and 10% technology. As this concept is new and little is known about it scientifically, in the past not many relevant researches in psychology has been taken to throw light on the virtual work force, we consider it relevant to study this new area as it is becoming one of the challenges in the field of organizational behavior in the present digital age. With these questions in mind we have taken virtual workers as a sample of this study. Another important and associated aspect is that organization climate and the interpersonal trust between people in these organizations where members do not meet face to face play an important role irrespective of the type of organization. Does interpersonal trust get affected in these organizations? Therefore, the study of organizational climate is an important part of this research.

We consider two approaches here. The first regards the concept of climate as an individual perception and cognitive representation of the work environment. The second emphasizes the importance of shared perceptions as underpinning the notion of the climate (Anderson & West, 1998; Mathisen & Einarsen, 2004). A study conducted by Hart, Griffin, Wearing and Cooper (1996) shows that the organizational climate model accounts for at least 16% on a single-day sick leave and 10% separation rates in one organization. Other studies support the links between organizational climate and many other factors such as employee retention, job satisfaction, well-being, and readiness and change (Bushell, 2007).

Organizational climate has many constituents. Among all of them OCTAPACE culture is one which was introduced by T.V. Rao. It includes 1. Openness 2.Confrontation 3.Trust 4.Authenticity 5.Proactivity 6.Autonomy 7.Collaboration and 8.Exprementing (Singh...

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