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Journal Article


Lim JAYK. Team Perform. Manag. 2022; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2022, Emerald Group Publishing)






PURPOSE Organizations worldwide use virtual teams to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and capitalize on distributed members' unique expertise to accomplish essential tasks. A critical reason that inhibits virtual team members from leveraging each other's knowledge is a lack of psychological safety. Specifically, individuals are unwilling to speak out for fear of negative repercussions, such as embarrassment to one's image and rejection from others in their teams. The purpose of this study is to advance the importance of distinct awareness (task knowledge and presence) enabled by information technologies in developing the psychological safety of men and women in virtual teams.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH This study tested the hypotheses using a survey study of 94 participants from 19 graduate student virtual teams.

FINDINGS This study found that task knowledge awareness predicted psychological safety for men, whereas it was presence awareness for women. By demonstrating the role of awareness in promoting psychological safety for men and women in virtual teams, this study also sheds light on reducing online gender inequitable issues. Practical implications First, organizational managers need to incorporate gender when deciding the awareness type to promote psychological safety in virtual teams. For men, it is task knowledge awareness, whereas for women, it is presence awareness. Second, as there is a wide range of information technologies (ITs) available, managers need to identify if the provided ITs enable virtual team members to develop the specific type of knowledge awareness critical for psychological safety development. Third, managers can incorporate rewards and apply interventions at regular temporal periods to encourage team members to increase their online presence as well as question and share task-related content.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE It is imperative to identify ways to encourage men and women working in virtual teams to speak up so that the expertise held by the members can be better leveraged. This study represents an important step in this direction.

Language: en


Gender; Information technologies enabled awareness types; Psychological safety; Virtual teams


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