Trust within Organizations-Benefiting from Demographic Changes by Fostering Intra-Organizational Trust

By Voelpel, Sven; Kearney, Eric | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Trust within Organizations-Benefiting from Demographic Changes by Fostering Intra-Organizational Trust


Voelpel, Sven, Kearney, Eric, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Trust has been a topic of great importance to researchers from different scientific disciplines such as sociology (e.g., Coleman, 1990), psychology (e.g., Colquitt, Scott, & LePine 2007, 909-927), and economics (e.g., Williamson 1993, 77-140). It is recognized as an important factor influencing both organizational success in the marketplace and the wellbeing of the workforce (Connell, Ferres, & Travaglione 2003, 113-118). In this paper, we will focus on trust within organizations, since we argue that high levels of intraorganizational trust are a prerequisite for an organization's ability to be perceived as trustworthy by customers, shareholders, and the general public. Many organizations have in the past had great difficulties in building, retaining, or rebuilding the trust of different stakeholder groups.

These difficulties stem from a number of recent developments, with blatant cases of mismanagement (e.g., the Enron or Worldcom scandals) being only an extreme example, but certainly not the most important. Much more importantly, many organizations now view large profits as not just the main, but as the only objective of their existence. To this end, many companies no longer provide the job security, benefits, and pay structures that a large section of the workforce could rely on in the past. Globalization and rapid technological changes have done their part to increase competitiveness and fuel the scramble for survival in a business environment in which hostile takeovers or insolvency are constant threats. To be sure, the general public has contributed to this development in that it demands both low costs of products and services and at the same time high quality.

The perception that the satisfaction of employees is not at the top of the list of priorities for most organizations (which, in many contexts, it has never been) and the ubiquitous threat of downsizing, outsourcing, and offshoring and the attendant layoffs have, on the part of the employees, led to an erosion in trust in their organizations (Connell, Ferres, and Travaglione, 2003, 113-118). According to Shaw (1997), a large part of the workforce has become cynical and withdrawn. Little or no increases in inflation-adjusted salaries and large-scale dismissals of long-term employees coupled with ever-rising compensation packages for top managers and increasing organizational profit margins have done their part in diminishing employee's trust in and identification with their organizations. Davis and Landa (1999, 12-16) have found that 68% of employees do not trust their superiors and 43% of employees believe their superiors cheat and lie. Moreover, McCune (1998, 10-14) argues that trust is unlikely to emerge when there exists a power asymmetry, as in the case of employer and employee.

While this erosion in trust has often been discussed and lamented, both in the scientific literature and the public at large, there is little in the extant literature on how organizations can build, enhance, or rebuild trust and trusting informal cultures--which, due to the above developments, may be even more difficult today than in the past (Connell, Ferres, and Travaglione, 2003, 113-118). The preponderance of studies focuses on trust between persons, most notably the trustworthiness of leaders (e.g., Dirks & Ferrin 2002, 611628). In this present paper, we will focus on trust within organizations--that is, the informal culture of trust that permeates the interpersonal relationships among members of organizations. These relationships comprise not only those between employees and their direct superiors and top management, but also those among employees. Shaw (1997) has argued that trust constitutes a "collaborative capital" that helps organizations attain success and cope with periods of high stress, environmental uncertainty, and rapid change.

We argue that one important aspect has hitherto been ignored in the extant literature on trust within organizations, namely its promise with respect to unlocking the potential entailed by diversity within the workforce. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Trust within Organizations-Benefiting from Demographic Changes by Fostering Intra-Organizational Trust
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.