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 7: Conclusions

Frédérique Six

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


The starting point of this study was the observation that trust is considered to be important by many – scholars and practitioners alike – yet we do not see predominantly high-trust work relationships. The proposed explanation was that, among others, trust is difficult to build and maintain, especially in the face of trouble. The motivation for the study was that it is worthwhile investigating trust and trouble within organizations because it can be assumed that the effectiveness of interpersonal trust building co-varies with the level of cooperation and the effectiveness of cooperation. The present study aims to contribute to existing research on trust by formulating a theory of interpersonal trust building. Three research questions were formulated: 1. How is interpersonal trust built in work relations within organizations? 2. How does trouble influence this process? 3. How does the organizational context influence these trust and trouble processes? The purpose of Chapter 2 was to lay the foundations for a theory of interpersonal trust building within work relations that started from relational signalling theory. Chapters 3 to 6 were devoted to further development of the foundations and to an empirical test of the theory. A case study research strategy within two organizations, Krauthammer and Deerns, was used, with a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses embedded. For the first two research questions the main unit of analysis was an event in which trust and/or trouble between two people of the organization played a role and the results for the two organizations were compared. For...

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