The Trouble with Trust
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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.
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Chapter 6: Dealing with Trouble

Frédérique Six


In earlier chapters it was argued that trouble is inevitable in organizational life. When someone experiences trouble he/she is likely to question – at least temporarily – the stability of the trouble maker’s normative frame, in other words, whether the trouble maker is still interested in maintaining a mutually rewarding relationship with him/her. Thus, how trouble is dealt with and what the impact of a trouble event is on the trust in the relationship are important when studying the trust-building process. If, as proposed in proposition 2.8, both individuals involved in a trouble event act in ways that are not perceived as negative relational signals, the potentially negative impact of a trouble event on the trust in the relationship may be avoided. This is directly related to the fourth strategy for stabilizing normative frames: to avoid sending negative relational signals. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate this fourth strategy by investigating trouble events, examining the impact of trouble on trust in the relationship as the dependent variable and identifying other explanatory variables. First, the elements of the trouble process are sketched and the trouble model is formulated. Next, this model is tested empirically. The main analysis used is the quantitative trust and trouble event analysis. Occasionally, qualitative analyses are used to illustrate arguments, especially where quantitative data are not available. For a check on the representativeness of the results, a comparison is made between results from the trust and trouble event analysis and the survey analysis. TROUBLE PROCESS Six variables...

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