Marte Pettersen Buvik



NTNU, Institutt for industriell økonomi og teknologiledelse




+47 93211361


c/o Institutt for industriell økonomi og teknologiledelse


7491 Trondheim 



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Tittel på avhandling:

The impact of trust climate and cross-functional cooperation on knowledge sharing and team performance in cross-functional project teams. 



The purpose of this study is to investigate how cross-functional project teams can be successful through exploring the role of trust and cross-functional cooperation and its impact on knowledge sharing and project team performance. The role of trust has become increasingly important as organizational structures become more reliant upon collaborative working practices such as project teams.  And as the complexity of projects increases project teams are often composed of members from different functional areas and diverse disciplines. Due to the inherent diversity in work practices, perspectives, objectives, interests and cultures, cross-functional project teams may experience difficulties in developing a climate of trust within the team. This again may impact the sharing of knowledge between team members as trust facilities knowledge sharing through the promotion of collaboration and shared practice. This may have both direct and indirect effect on team functioning and team performance of the project team.


Research questions:

  • How does the cross-functionality of the team influence the climate of trust in the project team?
  • How does a climate of trust develop in cross-functional project teams?
  • What are the elements of a climate of trust in such a setting?
  • How does trust influence the knowledge sharing practices in the project team?
  • What are the mechanisms for knowledge sharing in cross-functional project teams? What are the barriers?
  • What is the impact of trust and knowledge sharing on team performance?
  • What are the consequences of mistrust on team processes and performance in a project team?


The research design in this study includes both quantitative methods and qualitative approaches. This mixed method approach provides both a breadth and deep understanding of the impact of trust and cooperation on knowledge sharing and performance in cross-functional project teams.


My methodological approach includes a quantitative survey conducted on project teams in different industries and a case study of three project teams over an extended period of time to investigate the research questions through different phases in a project. For the case study approach two project teams in the construction industry and one new product development project team in engineering is my sample. The methodology includes:

  • In-depth interviews of project leaders and key project team members
  • Observation of project team meetings
  • Repeated measures of trust climate, cross-functional cooperation, knowledge sharing activities and team performance done by weekly surveys for a period of 6 weeks (diary study)


The quantitative survey of project teams includes questions on trust climate, cross-functional cooperation, knowledge sharing, commitment and team performance and will be conducted on several project based organizations. A follow up study after 6 months is pursued to investigate the development of these factors and the dynamic relationships between them.


Implications of the study will be increased knowledge on the impact of trust and cooperation in diverse project teams. Awareness and guidelines of how to develop and maintain a climate of trust and good cross-functional cooperation are essential for project teams in order to succeed.


The results of the study will be published in international journals and as a doctoral dissertation. In addition there will be a presentation of the quantitative study on project teams in a seminar led by The Norwegian Center of Project Management (NSP).