The Role of Trust in Organizations: Do Foci and Bases Matter?

by Yang, Jixia

Abstract (Summary)
A recent literature review shows that the effects of trust on workplace outcomes are less consistent than might be expected (Dirks & Ferrin, 2001). For some work-related outcomes, studies have revealed significant effects of trust whereas others have not. By definition, trust describes a psychological state comprising positive expectations about the behavior and intentions of another. The position of this dissertation is that, to have a full understanding of the effects of trust, researchers need to consider on what basis this positive expectation is formed (i.e., trusts bases) as well as in whom this positive expectation is placed (i.e., trusts foci). Based on this position, and with trust bases and foci being explicitly recognized, the effects of trust were examined vis-à-vis the following variables: organizational commitment (affective and continuance), supervisor-subordinate conflict (task- and relationship-related), citizenship behavior directed toward coworkers (task- and person-focused), communication flow (upward and lateral), job satisfaction, task performance, and openness to organizational change. Data via survey were collected from 564 medical center employees (353 subordinates and 210 supervisors). Six combinations of trust bases and foci were found to be distinguishable, and each made a unique contribution to the predicted variance in subordinate job satisfaction. Increases in both cognitive and affective trust in ones supervisor were found to reduce task supervisory conflict and, with greater magnitude, reduce relationship supervisory conflict. Affective trust in management was found to be an important predictor of affective organizational commitment. Trust in ones supervisor, especially affective trust in ones supervisor, significantly predicted task performance. Interactions among subordinates, as indicated by open communication and helping behavior toward one another, were found to be influenced by trust in ones supervisor. In particular, both cognitive and affective trust in ones supervisor contributed to the prediction of task- and person-focused interpersonal citizenship behavior toward coworkers. Compared to cognitive trust, affective trust in ones supervisor was more predictive of both upward and lateral communication. Implications for research and practice, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Kevin W. Mossholder; Timothy D. Chandler; Arthur G. Bedeian; Mike Burnett; Hettie Richardson

School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport

School Location:USA - Louisiana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:management business administration


Date of Publication:04/06/2005

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