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Trust and distrust: polar opposites, or independent but co-existing

Saunders, MNK, Dietz, G and Thornhill, A (2014) Trust and distrust: polar opposites, or independent but co-existing Human Relations, 67 (6). pp. 639-655.

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Abstract

This paper provides an empirical test of whether trust and distrust can co-exist in the mind of an employee. Two interrelated questions are considered: firstly, whether trust and distrust judgements are ‘symmetrical’ or whether they can occur ‘simultaneously’ as separate constructs; and, secondly, whether trust and distrust judgements entail the same or conceptually different expectations as revealed in their expressions and anticipated manifestations. Using a concurrent mixed-method design incorporating a structured card sort and in-depth interviews, data were collected from 56 participants in two organisations. The card sort findings offer little support for the co-existence of trust and distrust, but suggest they could be separate constructs. Interview data indicates that participants do perceive trust and distrust as entailing different sets of expectations and having different manifestations, providing some support for the ‘separate constructs’ thesis. We also find evidence of two new combinations of weak levels of trust and distrust not previously specified. The findings highlight how employees’ trust and distrust judgements are shaped, in part, by managerial actions and policies relating to quality of communication and job security. They also emphasise how, when employees are distrustful, differing practice interventions may be needed to reduce distrust than those used build trust.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Saunders, MNKUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Dietz, GUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Thornhill, AUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 20 May 2014
Identification Number : 10.1177/0018726713500831
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 07 Aug 2014 08:37
Last Modified : 12 Aug 2014 09:56
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/805576

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