Preserving organizational trust during disruption

Gustafsson, S., Gillespie, N. A., Searle, R. , Hope Hailey, V. and Dietz, G. (2021) Preserving organizational trust during disruption. Organization Studies, 42(9), pp. 1409-1433. (doi: 10.1177/0170840620912705)

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How is organizational trust preserved during times of disruption? We address this question, building on the concept of active trust which views trust as an ongoing accomplishment constituted by reflexive actors. Drawing on a multi-case study of four organizations that experienced major disruption in response to the global financial crisis of 2009, we contribute to trust theory in three ways. First, we extend beyond the current focus on trust building and repair by developing conceptual understanding of trust preservation as a distinct phenomenon. Second, we develop a theoretical model that explains how organizational actors accomplish the preservation of employees’ trust in their organization. We identify three trust preservation practices used in the successful case organizations – cognitive bridging, emotional embodying and inclusive enacting – and show that organizational members’ understanding of the established foundations of trust in the organization, and their ability to mobilize these, are critical to the preservation of trust. Third, we position trust preservation as a manifestation and extension of active trust, and show that for trust to be preserved in disruptive contexts, both familiarization and transformation of existing trust practices are required.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK.
Keywords:Employee trust, organizational disruption, trust in organizations, trust preservation.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Searle, Professor Rosalind
Authors: Gustafsson, S., Gillespie, N. A., Searle, R., Hope Hailey, V., and Dietz, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Organization Studies
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1741-3044
Published Online:10 March 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Organization Studies 42(9): 1409-1433
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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