Identification with virtual teams

Marko Hakonen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Virtual teams, that is groups of people striving toward a common goal, dispersed across many locations, and communicating with each other predominantly via information and communication technology have become increasingly common forms of organizing work. Globalization, the need to be near customers and the rapid development of technology have enabled and driven this development. The number of studies on virtual teams is increasing but many phenomena are still understudied, especially in real-life settings. In this dissertation I have chosen to investigate the dynamics of social identification with virtual teams. Identification has often been put forward as a major success factor for virtual teams because it has been claimed to provide a sense of belonging despite the relative lack of face-to-face interaction. In order to shed more light on identification in this organizational context I have concentrated on the concepts of perceived justice and interpersonal trust and theories that link identification with them. I have also studied many relevant structural variables which are typical in virtual teams. I studied real-life virtual teams in all the four original articles of this dissertation. The data consisted of subsamples from two questionnaires; altogether 42 virtual teams and 302 team members were included. The cross-sectional data were analyzed quantitatively. The findings gave strong support to the importance of perceived justice, especially perceived procedural justice in the development of shared virtual team identity. Moreover, identity was found to be a strong motivational force which mediated the effects of justice perceptions on outcome variables. Such structural factors as the lack of face-to-face interaction and geographical dispersion were found to create uncertainty within virtual teams and moderate the relationship between procedural justice and identification. The fewer face-to-face meetings there were and the higher the geographical dispersion, the stronger the uncertainty which, in turn, forced team members to increase their search of identity cues from procedural justice judgments. Finally, it was found that both strong identification and high levels of trust are needed at the same time to predict virtual team effectiveness.
Translated title of the contributionIdentification with virtual teams
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vartiainen, Matti, Supervisor
  • Lipponen, Jukka, Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-3026-5
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-3027-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • virtual teams
  • social identification
  • perceived justice

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Identification with virtual teams'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this