Introduction: trust within organisations

AuthorKatinka Bijlsma, Paul Koopman
Publication Date01 Oct 2003
trust within organisations
Katinka Bijlsma and Paul Koopman
Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Keywords Trust, Organisationsement
Abstract Introduces six empirical studies on trust within organisations which were originally
presented at a workshop on “Trust within and between organisations”, organised by the European
Institute for Advanced Studies in Management at the Free University Amsterdam, in November
2001. Areas covered include: the legitimacy of the field of study; common understandings and
disagreements in theoretical ideas; and directions for future research.
In the past decade, issues of trust in inter- and intra-organisational
relationships have b een increasing in impo rtance on the agendas of
organisational scholars, legitimated by changes in the social structure of
societies, economic exchange relations and organisational forms. Given the
diminishing binding power of reciprocal obligations (Kramer, 1996), of
hierarchical relation s (Sheppard and Tuschins ky, 1996) and of social
institutions relying on hierarchy to sanction deviant behaviour (De Swaan,
1990) other mechanisms are needed to keep the social fabric of society intact.
Due to processes of globalisation, flexibilisation of labour relations, continuous
change and virtualisation of organisational forms, relations between people
have become looser and behaviours are less easy to monitor nowadays. Within
firms, lateral relationships and alliances are growing in importance, in contrast
to hierarchical relationships that used to dominate the framing of work
relations (Sheppard and Tuschinsky, 1996). Between firms, new linkages are
being formed to achieve and main tain competitive advantage i n the
marketplace. These linkages require organisations to move towards network
forms and alliances (Lewicki and Bunker, 1996). Besides, organisational
performance becomes increasingly dependent on behaviours such as scanning
the environment to explore opportunities, participation in organisational
learning processes and helping colleagues to improve their performance. While
cooperative behaviours are growing in importance, hierarchy can be less relied
upon to bring these behaviours about (Kramer, 1996). Trustful relations
between organisational members can promote voluntary cooperation and
extra-role behaviours, as the study by Tyler in this volume shows. Increasing
instances of organisational change have also contributed to the rise of trust on
the research agenda. Conditions of change heighten the relevance of trust to
organisational performance and to the well-being of organisational members
(Mishra, 1996; Gilkey, 1991).
Personnel Review
Vol. 32 No. 5, 2003
pp. 543-555
qMCB UP Limited
DOI 10.1108/00483480310488324

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