The Dynamics of Interpersonal Trust Building
Chapter 2: Foundations for a Theory of Trust Building
This chapter begins with a general description of the assumptions and key implications of relational signalling theory before applying these to a theory of interpersonal trust building. The key argument put forward in this study – and explained in this chapter – is that for trust to work in work relations within contemporary organizations,1 both individuals in the relationship need to have their actions guided by a stable normative frame.2 Thus the stability of normative frames becomes a joint goal and likely to be jointly produced within the relationship itself with positive relational signals, as well as within the organization as a whole with the help of flanking arrangements that are part of the organizational context. RELATIONAL SIGNALLING THEORY The present explanatory effort builds on the theoretical framework for the analysis of governance problems in organizations, ‘relational signalling theory’. For the theoretical foundations of the relational signalling approach, see the writings of Lindenberg (1988, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998). Further elaboration and empirical testing of the theory can be found in Wittek (1999, 2003) and Mühlau (2000). Two basic assumptions are made in relational signalling. First, human behaviour is goal directed and any effort to explain social phenomena should pay attention to the goals of the individual actors (Lindenberg, 1997). Individuals are boundedly rational in the sense that they have too little information, but also – and possibly more so – with regard to their ability to make use of all the information at their disposal. This implies that individuals are generally intelligent...
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