Welcome to the Organisational Trust website. This website provides the latest details on the EGOS (European Group of Organization Studies) Standing Working Group on Organisational Trust. It also includes relevant information for researchers and practitioners who are interested in organisational trust.
We will create more detailed content outlining calls for the forthcoming EGOS conferences. We will also be collecting and publicising research within this field. Why not become a member and stay abreast of any new developments.
We look forward to your active involvement in this endeavor.
27th EGOS Colloquium, 7–9 July 2011, Gothenburg (Sweden)
28th EGOS Colloquium, 5–7 July 2012, Helsinki (Finland)
29th EGOS Colloquium, 3–5 July 2013, Montreal (Canada)
30th EGOS Colloquium, TBC
New HR book edited by Rosalind Searle and Denise Skinner. Read more
Special Issue of Organization Studies 'Trust In Crisis: Organizational and Institutional Trust, Failures and Repair'. Deadline for paper submissions: 3 December 2012. Read more
During the last decade a wide range of events have considerably shaken people's trust in organisations. Accounting frauds such as the Enron and Worldcom case, and employer trust breaches like the spying scandal of the large German retailer Lidl, have all fuelled questions about organisational trustworthiness. The unprecedented recent events in the global financial sector have focused attention squarely on trust at the organisational level. The problem that arises takes on quite dramatic dimensions as the long term survival of organisations and sustainable organisational performance crucially depends on trust from key stakeholders, such as investors, employees, customers, suppliers and business partners (Barney & Hansen, 1994)Yet, despite widespread recognition that trust operates at multiple levels (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998)and that an organisation’s reputation for trustworthiness is a key "source of competitive advantage" (Barney and Hansen 1994: 175), research has been slow to systematically and conceptually unpack the notion of organisation-level trust as distinct from interpersonal trust.
At present, there is no clear consensus on the concept of trust or trustworthiness at the organisational level, nor is there coherent theory, an agreed model or sufficient empirical research to guide a comprehensive understanding of organisational trust and how the latter might be linked to trust at more macro and micro levels. Indeed, relatively few attempts have been made to capture the essence of impersonal trust [for foundational work see Luhmann (1979); Shapiro (1987) and Zucker (1986) and how macro and micro level forces influence trust dynamics at the institutional level. Some research suggests that interorganisational trust and public trust in organisations and institutions may have different dimensions than interpersonal trust (e.g. Zaheer, McEvily, & Perrone, 1998). Recent and emerging work has started to unpack the concept of organisational trust and identify its determinants. For example, Bachmann(2001)suggests that strongly regulated business systems produce much higher levels of impersonal trust than liberal capitalist systems. Gillespie and Dietz (2009) propose that employees’ perceptions of organisational trustworthiness are influenced by cues sent by six key system components, including organisational leadership and management, culture, strategy, structures and policies, external governance, and public reputation. The latter authors further identify that the processes of trust repair at the organisational level are fundamentally different from those at the interpersonal level, with several dilemmas and problems arising for institutions that do not pertain to interpersonal contexts. Empirical studies on trust in organisations indicate that, although related to interpersonal trust, organisational trust is a distinct construct with unique antecedents, such as legal arrangements (Arrighetti, Bachmann, & Deakin, 1997; Lane & Bachmann, 1996), perceived organisational support (Tan & Tan, 2000) distributive and procedural justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Scott, & LePine, 2007) high involvement HR practices (Searle, et al., forthcoming; Searle & Skinner, 2011) and organisational control systems (Weibel, et al., 2009).
In sum, we seek to offer a critical space in which to systematically and conceptually unpack the notion of organisation-level trust as distinct from interpersonal trust, focusing on both trust within and between organisations. Our aim is to inspire a transdisciplinary discourse that complements and contrasts more micro-oriented approaches, such as those originating in psychology or behavioural economics, with insights from sociology, management studies, political science and cultural anthropology. We also seek to encourage research that complements the methods currently dominating trust research (i.e. survey studies and experiments) with mixed, grounded and critical approaches, including ethnographic and other qualitative methods, as well as novel research designs commonly used in more macro-oriented fields (e.g. con-joint analysis, vignettes etc).
The aims of this research agenda include the following activities:
Arrighetti, A., Bachmann, R., & Deakin, S. (1997). Contract law, social norms and inter-firm cooperation. Camb. J. Econ., 21(2), 171-195.
Bachmann, R. (2001). Trust, power and control in trans-organizational relations. Organization Studies, 22(2), 337-365.
Barney, J. B., & Hansen, M. H. (1994). Trustworthiness as a Source of Competitive Advantage. [Article]. Strategic Management Journal, 15, 175-190.
Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(2), 278-321.
Colquitt, J., Scott, B., & LePine, J. (2007). Trust, trustworthiness, and trust propensity: A meta-analytic test of their unique relationships with risk taking and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 909-927.
Gillespie, N., & Dietz, G. (2009). Trust Repair after an Organization-Level Failure. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 127-145
Lane, C., & Bachmann, R. (1996). The Social Constitution of Trust: Supplier Relations in Britain and Germany. Organization Studies, 17(3), 365-395.
Luhmann, N. (1979). Trust and power : two works. Chichester ; New York: Wiley.
Rousseau, D. M., Sitkin, S. B., Burt, R. S., & Camerer, C. F. (1998). Not so Different After all: A Cross-Discipline View of Trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 393-404.
Searle, R., Den Hartog, D., Weibel, A., Gillespie, N., Six, F., Hatzakis, T., et al. (forthcoming). Trust in the Employer: The Role of High Involvement Work Practices and Procedural Justice. International Journal of Human Resources Management.
Searle, R., & Skinner, D. (Eds.). (2011). Trust and HRM. Chichester: Edward Elgar.
Shapiro, S. P. (1987). The Social Control of Impersonal Trust. American Journal of Sociology, 93(3), 623-658.
Tan, H. H., & Tan, C. S. F. (2000). Toward the differentiation of trust in supervisor and trust in organization. Genetic Social and General Psychology Monographs, 126(2), 241-260.
Weibel, A., Searle, R., Den Hartog, D., Hatzakis, T., Six, F., & Gillespie, N. (2009). Formal Control as a Driver of Organizational Trustworthiness.Unpublished manuscript.
Zaheer, A., McEvily, B., & Perrone, V. (1998). Does Trust Matter? Exploring the Effects of Interogranizational and Interpersonal Trust on Performance. Organization Science, 9(2), 141-159.
Zucker, L. G. (1986). Production of Trust: Institutional Sources of Economic Structure, 1840-1920. Research in Organizational Behavior, 8, 53-111.