Social loafing, the act of withholding effort in teams, has been identified as an important problem in virtual teams. A lack of social control and the inability to observe or trust that others are fulfilling their commitments are often cited as major causes of social loafing in virtual teams where there is geographic dispersion and a reliance on electronic communications. Yet, more research is needed to better understand such claims. The goal of this study was to examine the impact of control and trust on social loafing in virtual teams. To accomplish this, we proposed and empirically tested a multi-level research model that explains the relationships among team controls, trust, social loafing, and team performance. We tested the model with 272 information technology employees in 39 virtual teams. Results indicate that control and trust reduce social loafing separately and also jointly.
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