Summary of studies: When and how trust influences team performance

Question of trust

The performance of a team is positively related to the level of trust among its members.

Trust and team performance: A meta-analysis of main effects, moderators, and covariates (De Jong, BA, Dirks, KT, & Gillespie, N., 2016 ).

This meta-analysis examines 112 different studies that analyze, among all, a total of 7,763 work teams. The fundamental question is whether the trust between the members of a team is related to the collective performance of the team and, if so, what is the magnitude of that relationship. Secondly, the study aims to find out which are the main factors that enhance trust between the members of a team and the conditions under which it becomes particularly important for collective performance.

The interest in carrying out this study arises from the importance that is lately being given to the subject of confidence in the academic world, logical in a scenario where there is a trend towards increasingly flat organizational structures, and where teamwork and project work are growing.

After isolating the effect of trust in the leader and past performance in the present performance of a team, this meta-analysis reveals that intra-group trust has a moderate impact (p = .30) on team performance. The results also suggest that the relationship between trust between team members and group performance is subject to the influence of several factors:

Interdependence of tasks

First, in a context of teamwork where the interdependence of the tasks is high and, therefore, the interactions among its members should be more frequent, the relationship between the level of intra-group trust and team performance tends to be stronger.

Different levels of authority

Second, when levels of authority are clearly differentiated among team members, intra-group trust is also more important for good team performance, because those with authority have to trust that the activities, which they delegated, will be carried out by other team members, and on other side, the trust that team members need to have that those invested with authority will make the right decisions.

Differentiated skills

Third, when the skills of team members are very differentiated, intra-group trust is more decisive for the collective performance of the team, since each member has to rely on the knowledge and skills of the rest of the team to reach the goals of the group.


These findings have practical implications, since they demonstrate that intra-group trust is a valid predictor of team performance.

In addition, this meta-analysis provides evidence to managers and HR professionals about when intra-group trust is most critical for the performance of a team: when the levels of authority are differentiated, when their members have different skills, and when they work in highly interdependent form.

In addition, the study also shows that the influence of intra-group trust on team performance is observed both in newly created teams and in more consolidated teams, and that intra-group trust contributes to collective success over past performance.


De Jong, B. A., Dirks, K. T., & Gillespie, N. (2016). Trust and team performance: A meta-analysis of main effects, moderators, and covariates.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(8), 1134.

Author of article: Future for Work Institute

Original article in Spanish

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