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Trust and Distrust In Organizations

Trust and Distrust In Organizations: Dilemmas and Approaches

Roderick M. Kramer
Karen S. Cook
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Trust and Distrust In Organizations
    Book Description:

    The effective functioning of a democratic society—including social, business, and political interactions—largely depends on trust. Yet trust remains a fragile and elusive resource in many of the organizations that make up society's building blocks. In their timely volume, Trust and Distrust in Organizations, editors Roderick M. Kramer and Karen S. Cook have compiled the most important research on trust in organizations, illuminating the complex nature of how trust develops, functions, and often is thwarted in organizational settings. With contributions from social psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, and organizational theorists, the volume examines trust and distrust within a variety of settings—from employer-employee and doctor-patient relationships, to geographically dispersed work teams and virtual teams on the internet. Trust and Distrust in Organizations opens with an in-depth examination of hierarchical relationships to determine how trust is established and maintained between people with unequal power. Kurt Dirks and Daniel Skarlicki find that trust between leaders and their followers is established when people perceive a shared background or identity and interact well with their leader. After trust is established, people are willing to assume greater risks and to work harder. In part II, the contributors focus on trust between people in teams and networks. Roxanne Zolin and Pamela Hinds discover that trust is more easily established in geographically dispersed teams when they are able to meet face-to-face initially. Trust and Distrust in Organizations moves on to an examination of how people create and foster trust and of the effects of power and betrayal on trust. Kimberly Elsbach reports that managers achieve trust by demonstrating concern, maintaining open communication, and behaving consistently. The final chapter by Roderick Kramer and Dana Gavrieli includes recently declassified data from secret conversations between President Lyndon Johnson and his advisors that provide a rich window into a leader’s struggles with problems of trust and distrust in his administration. Broad in scope, Trust and Distrust in Organizations provides a captivating and insightful look at trust, power, and betrayal, and is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the underpinnings of trust within a relationship or an organization.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-338-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Psychology, Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Trust and Distrust in Organizations: Dilemmas and Approaches
    (pp. 1-18)
    Roderick M. Kramer and Karen S. Cook

    For more than a decade now, the topic of trust has been at the center of scholarly research on organizations. The ascension of trust as a major focus of research in the organizational sciences reflects in no small measure a large body of evidence documenting the substantial and varied benefits that accrue when trust is in place within organizational boundaries. Coupled with this strong evidence of the benefits of trust is an acute appreciation of the problematic nature of organizational trust. Although trust may be a desirable resource, it is often a fragile and elusive one.

    Interest in trust as...


    • Chapter 2 Trust in Leaders: Existing Research and Emerging Issues
      (pp. 21-40)
      Kurt T. Dirks and Daniel P. Skarlicki

      Trust is a crucial element of effective leadership that can impact followers in ways ranging from the mundane to the heroic. For example, trust has been found to explain why some employees effectively complete their jobs and in addition go above and beyond the call of duty in their work without clear recompense. Among the more heroic aspects, trust can help explain why individuals have been willing to follow the visions of leaders, in some cases placing their fate (and sometimes lives) in the hands of leaders in contexts ranging from modern organizations to ancient armies and expeditions.¹

      The recognition...

    • Chapter 3 Supervisors as Trust Brokers in Social-Work Bureaucracies
      (pp. 41-64)
      John Brehm and Scott Gates

      Trust constitutes a central aspect of human relations, and within the context of organizations it plays a particularly strong role. The success of hierarchical relationships between supervisors and subordinates may hinge on mutual trust, and trust also permeates professional-client relationships. Public bureaucracies, especially those characterized by ″street-level bureaucrats″ (Lipsky 1980), exhibit aspects of both types of relationships. Consider a social-work bureaucracy: the social worker and client maintain a professional-client relationship, while the social worker and supervisor maintain a hierarchical organizational relationship. Mutual trust in either relationship is shaped by the nature of the other relationship; to consider one relationship, we...

    • Chapter 4 Trust and Distrust in Patient-Physician Relationships: Perceived Determinants of High- and Low-Trust Relationships in Managed-Care Settings
      (pp. 65-98)
      Karen S. Cook, Roderick M. Kramer, David H. Thom, Irena Stepanikova, Stefanie Bailey Mollborn and Robin M. Cooper

      The central role that trust plays in effective patient-physician relationships¹ has long been recognized and amply documented (see Parsons 1964; Caterinicchio 1979; Barber 1983; Mechanic and Schlesinger 1996; Brody 1992; Pearson and Raeke 2000). Trust has been shown to be a critical factor influencing a variety of important therapeutic processes and outcomes, including acceptance of therapeutic recommendations (Penman et al. 1984; Altice, Mostashari, and Friedland 2001);² adherence to physician recommendations (Safran, Taira, et al. 1998);³ satisfaction with medical care (Thom et al. 1999; Safran, Taira, et al. 1998);⁴ symptom improvement following an office visit (Thom et al. 2002); and patient...

    • Chapter 5 Monitoring, Rules, and the Control Paradox: Can the Good Soldier Švejk Be Trusted?
      (pp. 99-126)
      Gary J. Miller

      One of the most fascinating and revealing forms of organizational osabotage is ″working to rule″—precisely following rules while providing no voluntary effort beyond that required by the rules. An especially destructive form of ″working to rule″ involves applying the rules most carefully where they are least appropriate to the situation. This technique was perfected by Private Josef Švejk, a leading Czech cultural hero and the eponym of Jaroslav Hašek′s satirical novelThe Good Soldier Švejk(Hašek [1920–23] 1974). In World War I, the Czechs were formally on the same side as their Austrian rulers. Many Czechs deserted and...

    • Chapter 6 Commitment, Trust, and Worker Effort Expenditure in Organizations
      (pp. 127-152)
      John M. Darley

      For many organizations, all that is necessary for organizational success is that the workers follow directions, and all that is necessary for that to happen is that they be adequately compensated for following directions and successfully producing product. Managers can observe both what the workers are doing behaviorally and the products that the workers produce. James Wilson (1989, 159) refers to organizations where these conditions obtain as ″production organizations.″ In this sort of organization, it is understood by all that the trade-off involves ″an honest day′s work for an honest day′s wage.″

      In other sorts of organizations, for the organization...


    • Chapter 7 Will Security Enhance Trust Online, or Supplant It?
      (pp. 155-188)
      Helen Nissenbaum

      Promoters of the Internet and other digital media cite many and diverse benefits of these advances to humanity, from wide-ranging access to information and communication to enhancement of community and politics to stimulation of commerce and scientific collaboration. As the digital infrastructure has grown in size and complexity, however, even the most enthusiastic proponents acknowledge that the benefits are not inevitable but rest on a number of contingencies. Key among them is trust. Just as in conventional settings where trust improves the lives, prospects, and prosperity of individuals, relationships, and communities, so would it online, and just as distrust can...

    • Chapter 8 Architects of Trust: The Role of Network Facilitators in Geographical Clusters
      (pp. 189-213)
      Bill McEvily and Akbar Zaheer

      Can trust be purposively designed and constructed? Trust is often treated as a dyadic phenomenon that unfolds between two parties according to a fairly well defined evolutionary path. We seek to broaden our understanding of the developmental logic of trust by proposing that trust can be intentionally shaped and further that certain actors are skilled in the art and craft of building trust among others. Such architects of trust play a vital role as network facilitators in geographical clusters where firms simultaneously collaborate and compete. Our theory is based on a grounded case study of the office furniture manufacturing industry...

    • Chapter 9 Trust in Context: The Development of Interpersonal Trust in Geographically Distributed Work
      (pp. 214-238)
      Roxanne Zolin and Pamela J. Hinds

      With the help of Internet technologies such as email and computer-based collaboration tools, the number of geographically distributed cross-functional teams, the number of sites at which team members work (Armstrong and Cole 2002), and the interdependence of the tasks undertaken by distributed teams are increasing. Although remote work groups have existed for a very long time (see King and Frost 2002), historically, remote operations undertook more independent activities, such as the sourcing and transportation of goods (O′Leary, Orlikowski, and Yates 2002). Today′s distributed teams perform highly interdependent tasks such as creative design and problem solving. Such strong interdependence, however, requires...

    • Chapter 10 Psychological Safety, Trust, and Learning in Organizations: AGroup-Level Lens
      (pp. 239-272)
      Amy C. Edmondson

      Much work in today′s organizations is accomplished collaboratively and involves sharing information and ideas, integrating perspectives, and coordinating tasks. Teams provide a structural mechanism through which this collaboration often occurs. A defining characteristic of teams is the need for different individuals to work together to achieve a shared outcome (Hackman 1987). Both the research literature and anecdotal experiences of people who have worked on teams suggest that working interdependently with others is not always easy. Put simply, some teams work—members collaborate well—and others don′t (Hackman 1990). What allows people to openly share ideas and contribute a part of...


    • Chapter 11 Managing Images of Trustworthiness in Organizations
      (pp. 275-292)
      Kimberly D. Elsbach

      To possess an image of interpersonal trustworthiness is to be perceived by others as displaying (now and in the future) competence, benevolence, and integrity in one′s behaviors and beliefs (Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman 1995; Mayer and Davis 1999). In this definition, interpersonal trustworthiness is defined as a perception of trustworthiness from and about social interactions. In a corporate context, competence refers to the abilities and skills that allow a manager to have power and influence in the organization, benevolence refers to a manager′s desire to do good on behalf of organizational members, and integrity refers to a manager′s adherence to...

    • Chapter 12 Paradoxes of Trust: Empirical and Theoretical Departures from a Traditional Model
      (pp. 293-326)
      J. Keith Murnighan, Deepak Malhotra and J. Mark Weber

      The concept of exchange is central to social action (Homans 1961). In essence, anything that we might label as ″social″ depends on the give-and-take of more than a single individual. Many of these exchanges are informal or implicit, like the reciprocation of a smile upon meeting or the fulfillment of expectations that other drivers will conform to the driving norms of a particular locale. When exchanges become more formal or explicit, the parties typically reach agreements that regulate the transfer of objects or ideas between them, like the sale and delivery of goods in a market or the exchange of...

    • Chapter 13 Untangling the Knot of Trust and Betrayal
      (pp. 327-341)
      Sandra L. Robinson, Kurt T. Dirks and Hakan Ozcelik

      Trust is critical to organizational effectiveness. Trust enhances cooperation, improves communication, facilitates citizenship behaviors, in addition to improving group and organizational performance (Davis et al. 2000; Dirks 1999; O′Reilly and Roberts 1976; Podsakoff et al. 1990). Despite the importance of trust, however, current organizational environments often challenge the trust that employees bestow on organizations. Indeed, as trends toward downsizing, restructuring, and temporary employment continue, perceptions of unfair treatment (Brockner, Tyler, and Cooper-Schneider 1992), broken contracts (Robinson 1996), and experiences of betrayal will remain a part of the organizational landscape. And although it is an accepted assumption that these organizational changes...

    • Chapter 14 Power, Uncertainty, and the Amplification of Doubt: An Archival Study of Suspicion Inside the Oval Office
      (pp. 342-370)
      Roderick M. Kramer and Dana A. Gavrieli

      In his thoughtful meditation on the relationship between power and presidential performance, Garry Wills (1994) provocatively observed, ″There is something twistable in the hand about power—something tricky and unpredictable—amphisbaenicor backward-striking″ (297). Wills′s observation brings to mind the familiar caveat that ″power corrupts.″ But does power corrupt trust? Is there something ″twistable in the hand″ about the relationship between power and the capacity to trust?

      Broadly construed, this question directs our attention to the seeming fragility of trust in many organizational settings: Trust is hard-won, yet easily lost—or so, at least, it seems (see Janoff-Bulman 1992). Is...

  8. Index
    (pp. 371-388)