Looking 'beyond the factory gates': towards more pluralist and radical approaches to intra-organizational trust research

Siebert, S. , Martin, G., Bozic, B. and Docherty, I. (2015) Looking 'beyond the factory gates': towards more pluralist and radical approaches to intra-organizational trust research. Organization Studies, 36(8), pp. 1033-1062. (doi: 10.1177/0170840615580010)

103752.pdf - Accepted Version



The aim of this paper is to suggest new avenues for trust research by critiquing the extant literature on this topic. We analyze the most influential research on intra-organizational trust from the perspective of a classic industrial sociology framework from the 1970s – Alan Fox’s work on frames of reference and trust dynamics. Our analysis of intra-organizational trust studies leads us to three conclusions. Firstly, the large majority of intra-organizational trust research has strong unitarist underpinnings, which support a managerial agenda that is potentially detrimental to employees’ and (indeed managers’) long-term interests. Secondly, most of this research fails to explain how trust in organizations is embedded in societal and field level institutions, hence it would benefit from looking ‘beyond the factory gates’ for a more complete understanding of trust dynamics in organizations. In this connection, we argue that Fox’s pluralist and radical perspectives, which are under-represented in intra-organizational trust research, could provide new lines of inquiry by locating internal trust relations in a wider institutional context. Thirdly, Fox’s explanation of how low and high trust dynamics in organizations are embedded in wider society may help address the concerns about under-socialized, endogenous explanations and open the way for structure-agency analyses of building, maintaining and repairing intra-organizational trust.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Docherty, Professor Iain and Martin, Professor Graeme and Siebert, Professor Sabina
Authors: Siebert, S., Martin, G., Bozic, B., and Docherty, I.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Organization Studies
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1741-3044
Published Online:07 May 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Sage Publications Ltd.
First Published:First published in Organization Studies 36(8):1033-1062
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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