Managerial Trustworthy Behaviour


Imagine driving into work one day and hearing over the radio that your employer had agreed to merge with a rival firm and that the combined company would probably employ at least 10 percent fewer workers. Ciba Geigy employees experienced this scenario in 1996, when they were surprised to learn about their company's planned merger with Sandoz.

In a perfect world, this would never happen. Good news or bad, employees could trust management to give it to them straight, to mean what it said, and always to follow through on promises. But corporate America in 1996 is far from perfect. Management has lost credibility, employees are scared, and organizational trust has hit rock bottom (Caudron, 1996: 20).

At the same time that trust in organizations has hit "rock bottom," researchers have shown that interpersonal trust has significant relationships with many organizational variables, such as the quality of communication (e.g., Muchinsky, 1977; Roberts & O'Reilly, 1974a,b; Yeager, 1978), performance (Earley, 1986), citizenship behaviour (McAllister, 1995), problem solving (Zand, 1972), and cooperation (Axelrod, 1984; Deutsch, 1962).

Moreover, trust has long been considered fundamental to cooperative relationships (Blau, 1964; Deutsch, 1958). In recent reviews scholars have summarized common elements of the many different definitions of interpersonal trust (Hosmer, 1995; Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995). Drawing on these reviews and the work of others (Deutsch, 1962; Gambetta, 1988; Zand, 1972), we use a definition that reflects three facets.

First, trust in another party reflects an expectation or belief that the other party will act benevolently. Second, one cannot control or force the other party to fulfil this expectation-that is, trust involves a willingness to be vulnerable and risk that the other party may not fulfil that expectation....