The Trouble with Trust

The Trouble with Trust

The Dynamics of Interpersonal Trust Building

Frédérique Six

The Trouble with Trust poses the question: if trust is considered to be important for successful cooperation, why don't high-trust work relationships predominate? Part of the explanation, the author argues, is that it is particularly difficult to build and maintain trust in work relations. This book addresses this problem by providing an in-depth, multi-level empirical analysis of the process by which trust builds up and breaks down in the interaction between people within organizations.

Chapter 4: Creating a Trust-Enhancing Organizational Context

Frédérique Six

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, economics and finance, industrial organisation


Chapter 2 argued that interest alignment arrangements and institutional arrangements that stimulate normative frame resonance are contextual conditions that enable and enhance interpersonal trust building. This chapter develops the theory from Chapter 2 into hypotheses that are subsequently tested. The dependent variable is the ease of trust building and explanatory variables are specific organizational-level characteristics. The dependent variable is measured and analysed using the trust and trouble event analysis while the explanatory variables are predominantly examined using qualitative analyses. Trust is especially important in contemporary organizations, as defined to be the focus of this study, and in the relational signalling approach they are called weak solidarity organizations (Wittek, 1999; Lindenberg, 2003). In the first section, hypotheses are formulated for each of the five institutional arrangements identified in Chapter 2, and these hypotheses are tested in the second section. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS Chapter 2 identified five institutional arrangements that are discussed in this section, norms and values, socialization, control, interdependencies and human resource practices. Norms and Values Norms are about what is considered right and wrong; about how one should behave as the price for staying a member of the group (Krackhardt, 1999; Trompenaars Hampden-Turner, 2000). Values are what is considered good and bad. Values tend to be more internal than norms (ibid.). We have few means of controlling their enforcement: ‘a value is only a value when it is voluntarily chosen’ (Senge et al., 1999: 13). Several authors (for example, Schein, 1992; Schneider et al., 1998) argued that the founder’s values...

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