Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series
Edited by Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders
Chapter 1: Introduction. Researching trust: the ongoing challenge of matching objectives and methods
This second edition responds to the growing interest in research on trust, recognizing that it is one of the most fascinating and fundamental social phenomena yet at the same time one of the most ‘elusive’ (Gambetta, 1988) and challenging concepts one could study. One step forward for the broad community of trust researchers is to inform each other about the plurality of methods available to us, to share the pros and cons of these methods from our practical research experience, and to facilitate research designs according to the maxim of ‘horses for courses’. However, in practice, matching our methods to our specific research objectives in order to achieve ‘methodological fit’ (Edmondson and McManus, 2007) is easier said than done and the ‘misalignment between theory and measurement’ (for example, Korsgaard et al., 2015: 66) is still a common observation. Apart from the trite inclination to stick to the methods we know best, researchers often lack a systematic overview of the facets of trust to be studied, on the one hand, and the methods that have already been used to study trust, on the other hand. This kind of overview has been hard to come by. Möllering (2006: 127–54) was a rare example of an author who devoted a whole chapter to the question of how to study trust, including an overview of empirical approaches, a review of quantitative, qualitative and comparative approaches, and calling for interpretative approaches (see also Möllering et al., 2004).