Human resource management is the backbone of any business venture. Employees and managers alike are valued not only by their capabilities of delivering individual performance but also by their capabilities of working as a team. The connection between mutual trust and effective collaboration seems intuitive. At the same time, there is very little research made to explore the connection between them.
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The article reviewed in the scope of this paper is titled Linking Trust and Collaboration in Project Teams to Project Management Success, written by Bon-Barnard et al., and published in the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business in 2016. The article addresses the importance of trust and collaboration in management success, high levels of which are expected and required to improve the outcomes of high-end projects. Nevertheless, the link between trust, collaboration, and success remains uncertain, as there is a multitude of variables involved.
The article is using a mixed method approach, combining both qualitative and quantitative factors. The qualitative part is presented in a literature review, providing important background information to inform the framework and generate hypotheses. The subjects covered by the literature review include the level of trust construct, imported trust, expectations, the degree of collaboration construct, as well as a series of other factors, such as relationships, coordination, proximity, commitment, and conflict.
The information is synthesized and provided in a concise manner. According to the preliminary qualitative findings, the connection between the three primary areas of interest is linear. The chain starts with the level of trust, which affects the parameters of expectations, knowledge exchange, and imported trust, thus, in turn, influencing the degree of collaboration between the employees. The degree of collaboration is affected by coordination, relationships between individual members, and the incentives provided. A higher degree of collaboration, thus, leads to better project performance, constituting project management success. The hypotheses of the research, based on the information provided above, are the following:
- H1. PM success becomes more likely as the degree of collaboration increases.
- H2. The degree of collaboration increases as the level of trust in the project increases” (Bon-Barnard et al. 441).
The second part of the research is quantitative, based on a questionnaire. The purpose of this part was to obtain quantitative data about the level of trust, the degree of collaboration, and the perceived likelihood of project success. The researchers used a ten-point scale to allow the respondents to grade their thoughts and experiences. According to Bon-Barnard et al., purposive sampling was used, addressing 150 employees of five different companies (441).
The surveys were completed online. In order to ensure as little bias as possible, the researchers selected the respondents from all around the world. The majority of the respondents were males, half of whom were project leaders. Female representation in both employee and project leader subcategories was at around 15%. Average responder age: 35 years. The results were analyzed using the SEM model.
The findings produced by the surveys largely reflected the theoretical model constructed based on the findings in academic literature. As stated by Bon-Barnard et al., “the model as a whole account for why the endogenous variables, trust, and collaboration, co-vary with each other and also with the exogenous variables” (447). Trust was found to be associated the most with the expectations criteria (0.869), whereas imported trust had the least influence on the end result (0.497) (Bon-Barnard et al. 445). High trust levels also have a significant effect on knowledge exchange (0.814) (Bon-Barnard et al. 445). It is rationalized that the higher the level of trust is between individual members, the more likely it is for them to delegate tasks and share information to improve outcomes.
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The degree of collaboration has shown to have the highest influence on coordination and relationships, thus improving the overall climate in the project teams. At the same time, proximity and incentives were noted to be the least important factors. One could theorize that the level of trust does not have as much effect on these factors due to its relatively far positioning in the chain. The connections between the levels of trust, the degree of collaboration, and the rates for project management success have proven to be relatively solid, with the results of 0.768 and 0.792 (Bon-Barnard et al. 449).
Both hypotheses that were stated at the beginning of the research have been confirmed with a relatively high degree of precision. The forward correlational relationship between levels of trust, cooperation, and project management success has been confirmed (Bon-Barnard et al. 450).
However, there is not enough data to support a backward correlation of the process in the same manner. It is important to note that the proximity between members, imported trust, and the levels of risk play a significantly lesser part in determining the successfulness of the project when compared to expectations, knowledge exchange, and the relationships between individual members. Further validation of findings is required, as the results were based on the perceived successes in the project as a contrast to actual performance. Additional studies based on failed projects may provide an important counterpoint to this study.
Bon-Barnard, Taryn J., et al. “Linking Trust and Collaboration in Project Teams to Project Management Success.” International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11, no. 2, 2018, pp. 432-457.