global virtual teams, cross-cultural interactions, communication skills, trusting relationships


As universities seek to provide cost effective, cross-cultural experiences using global virtual (GV) teams, the “soft” communication skills typical on all teams, increases in importance for GV teams. Students need to be taught how to navigate through cultural issues and virtual tool issues to build strong trusting relationships with distant team members. Weekly team meetings provide an excellent opportunity to observe key team interactions that facilitate relationship and trust building among team members.

This study observed the weekly team meetings of engineering students attending two U.S. universities and one Asian university as they collaborated as a single GV capstone GV team. In addition local team members were interviewed individually and collectively throughout the project to determine strategies that facilitated team relations and trust. Findings indicate the importance of student choice of virtual communication tools, the refining of communication practices, and specific actions to build trusting relationships. As student developed these attributes, collaboration and success was experienced on this GV team.

Original Publication Citation

Zaugg, Holt; Davies, Randall S,. Communication Skills to Develop Trusting Relationships on Global Virtual Engineering Capstone Teams. European Journal of Engineering Education, v38 n2 p228-233 2013

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Taylor & Francis




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor