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Title: Critical analysis of interpersonal trust determinants in virtual teams, working in capability planning in the identification of capability gaps or needs, to provide required future military capability in the UK’s MOD
Author: Gaete Fica, H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 4499
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2016
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The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) balances defence policy aspirations and available resources through the capability planning process. Arguably, the cornerstone of this process is the cross-functional integration of skills and capabilities across defence. This is realised through a construct of Virtual Teams (VTs) called Capability Planning Groups (CPGs). Literature on the topic of interpersonal trust in VTs highlights the development of trust as a key element, if not the most significant, in pursuing desired outcomes. Furthermore, literature on this topic, in a defence context, is scarce. This thesis undertakes a specific research approach, in accordance with its aim: To develop a critical analysis of interpersonal trust determinants in VTs, working in capability planning for the identification of capability gaps or needs, to provide required future military capability. Consequently, three research questions are investigated: What are the pertinent determinants of interpersonal trust in the CPG?; What, if any, are the issues surrounding those determinants within the CPG?; and, What risks are there, beyond the interpersonal relationships, which could influence the trust behaviour of CPG members? A critical review of pertinent literature is followed by the development of a research methodology under a phenomenological paradigm. Building from this, fieldwork was undertaken in two phases. As a result of semi-structured interviews to the members of a number of CPGs, the way in which interpersonal trust is generically perceived was conceptualised, and confirmation of the interpersonal trust determinants considered in an adapted model of interpersonal trust in CPGs was provided. In addition, a cross-case analysis allowed the integration of the data gathered, in order to identify target areas to be covered in the second wave of data collection. Subsequently, in Phase II, information was gathered through a survey questionnaire addressed to the whole population under consideration, in order to increase the robustness of the study, by confirming and providing further insights about key issues identified, as well as underpinning more powerful conclusions. From this, interpersonal trust determinants pertaining to the CPGs, as well as the issues and risks regarding interpersonal trust, were asserted. A major finding was the conceptualisation of these issues and risks, because they are critical in determining if a specific behaviour will be taken. Moreover, as highlighted in the Defence Reform Report (2011), some of these are already identified as very real concerns, and appear as structural or enduring problems at MOD level. These elements are deemed a central focus for future research, because of their significance as contextual variables that have to be addressed in order to stimulate interpersonal trust and, consequently, improve performance in the CPGs. As the use of VTs is considered most likely to increase over time in MOD organisations, the findings from this research will be useful to all personnel involved in capability planning, and other cross-functional activities. In particular, it could inform the design of organisational processes and systems as capability management is taken forward. Finally, the issues and risks associated with such virtual trust are asserted as not believed to be a manifestation of dysfunctional strategic planning because defence organisations can have clarity of purpose, can have clear direction, and yet still send competing messages. Paradoxically, that is the weakness of being strong. The analysis suggests that action has to be taken in order to stimulate interpersonal trust, because it is important to avoid or mitigate negative effects of contextual variables influencing CPGs. To this end, it is crucial to understand the role that interpersonal trust plays in the cross-functional work that is critical for the successful integration of skills and capabilities, and to ensure that people involved in capability planning and other cross-functional activities are assisted in understanding the nature of this challenging and complex context.
Supervisor: Moore, D. M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available