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Factors influencing employee perceptions of trust within organisations

Marquis, Judith (2002) Factors influencing employee perceptions of trust within organisations. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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Trust is a complex concept and our understanding of what creates, sustains and builds trust within organisations is variable. The purpose of this study was to examine the antecedent factors influencing employee perceptions of trust in organisations, and this was achieved by aggregating qualitative trust data gathered from four surveys conducted in two related mining companies.

Analyses of questions that referred to trust in the 'company', produced one set of factors which described generalised leader behaviours and characteristics that influence employee perceptions of trust in leaders throughout their employing company. Analyses of questions that referred to employees' trust in their immediate managers produced factors that described behaviours and characteristics influencing their perceptions of trust in the leader with whom respondents had the most intimate supervisory relationship. Many factors were common to both phases of analysis, but the most frequently described was Open and Honest Communication. Some factors were unique to the company analysis, including Managers' Competencies, Provides Benefits, Safety Obligations, Stability of Managerial Personnel and Profit Motives. Others were unique to the immediate manager analyses and included Confidentiality, Consistency and Predictability, and Role Limitations. Similarities and differences in factors described within company analysis and immediate manager analysis were reconciled to produce six factor groupings. The different factor structure found in the company and immediate manager analyses reflect, to some extent, the impact of hierarchical distance on the basis for trust.

Mayer, Davis and Schoorman's (1995) Integrative Model of Organisational Trust was used as a starting point for factor identification and grouping because of its links to previous antecedent factor research. Several factors not represented in that model were extracted. Four factors described leaders' behaviours associated with employee trust: Managers' Competencies, Benevolence, Integrity, and Investment of Role and Task Responsibilities. Propensity to trust was present, but had two subtly different forms. Contextual Factors not represented in Mayer et al.'s, model were also extracted. These factor groups formed the components of an elaborated model of the antecedents of organisational trust.

Exploring trust at the company level as well as the immediate manager level provided important insight into trust behaviours attributed to managers and leaders of the company and those attributed to the immediate manager. Similarities and differences in company and immediate manager analysis provided a strong argument for future trust research making this distinction.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Supervisor(s): Arnold, Pauline Kay
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