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Handbook of Trust Research

Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer

The Handbook of Trust Research presents a timely and comprehensive account of the most important work undertaken in this lively and emerging field over the past ten to fifteen years. Presenting a broad range of approaches to issues on trust, the Handbook features 22 articles from a variety of disciplines on the study of trust in both organizational and societal contexts. With contributions from some of the most eminent names in the field of trust research, this international collaboration is an imaginative and informative reference tool to aid research in this engaging area for years to come.
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Chapter 1: Three Fundamental Questions Regarding Trust in Leaders

Kurt T. Dirks


Kurt T. Dirks Leaders play a prominent role in organizations – particularly from the point of view of followers. The formal and informal power that leaders possess puts them in a position to significantly influence followers as they set the goals that individuals work toward, control resources they value, and make decisions that impact their compensation and careers. As a consequence, followers have significant interest in evaluating whether or not they can trust the leader. While the recognition of the centrality of trust in leaders has long been of concern to followers, only recently has it taken on a prominent role in organizational research. This chapter examines three fundamental questions about trust in leaders: why is trust in leaders important? What factors build or undermine trust in leaders? What can leaders do to try to repair trust after it is damaged? The chapter attempts to summarize research on these three questions, including theoretical foundations and empirical evidence. It also raises some issues for future research on the three questions. The chapter is an attempt to summarize my own perspectives and research on these questions, but I also draw liberally from work of other scholars. In this chapter, I conceptualize trust as a psychological state held by the follower involving confident positive expectations about the behavior and intentions of the leader, as they relate to the follower. Theoretical perspectives Over the past four decades, trust in one’s leader(s) has been an important concept in multiple disciplines: organizational...

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