Trust and Distrust In Organizations: Dilemmas and Approaches

Russell Sage Foundation
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The effective functioning of a democratic society—including social, business, and political interactions—largely depends on trust. Yet trust remains a fragile and elusive resource in many of the organizations that make up society's building blocks. In their timely volume, Trust and Distrust in Organizations, editors Roderick M. Kramer and Karen S. Cook have compiled the most important research on trust in organizations, illuminating the complex nature of how trust develops, functions, and often is thwarted in organizational settings. With contributions from social psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, and organizational theorists, the volume examines trust and distrust within a variety of settings—from employer-employee and doctor-patient relationships, to geographically dispersed work teams and virtual teams on the internet.

Trust and Distrust in Organizations opens with an in-depth examination of hierarchical relationships to determine how trust is established and maintained between people with unequal power. Kurt Dirks and Daniel Skarlicki find that trust between leaders and their followers is established when people perceive a shared background or identity and interact well with their leader. After trust is established, people are willing to assume greater risks and to work harder. In part II, the contributors focus on trust between people in teams and networks. Roxanne Zolin and Pamela Hinds discover that trust is more easily established in geographically dispersed teams when they are able to meet face-to-face initially. Trust and Distrust in Organizations moves on to an examination of how people create and foster trust and of the effects of power and betrayal on trust. Kimberly Elsbach reports that managers achieve trust by demonstrating concern, maintaining open communication, and behaving consistently. The final chapter by Roderick Kramer and Dana Gavrieli includes recently declassified data from secret conversations between President Lyndon Johnson and his advisors that provide a rich window into a leader’s struggles with problems of trust and distrust in his administration.

Broad in scope, Trust and Distrust in Organizations provides a captivating and insightful look at trust, power, and betrayal, and is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the underpinnings of trust within a relationship or an organization.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust
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About the author

RODERICK M. KRAMER is the William R. Kimball Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

KAREN S. COOK is Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, Stanford University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Apr 29, 2004
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781610443388
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / Microeconomics
Political Science / General
Psychology / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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“Ideas of economic democracy are very much in the air, as they should be, with increasing urgency in the midst of today’s serious crises. Richard Wolff’s constructive and innovative ideas suggest new and promising foundations for much more authentic democracy and sustainable and equitable development, ideas that can be implemented directly and carried forward. A very valuable contribution in troubled times.”—Noam Chomsky

"Probably America's most prominent Marxist economist."—The New York Times

Capitalism as a system has spawned deepening economic crisis alongside its bought-and-paid-for political establishment. Neither serves the needs of our society. Whether it is secure, well-paid, and meaningful jobs or a sustainable relationship with the natural environment that we depend on, our society is not delivering the results people need and deserve.

One key cause for this intolerable state of affairs is the lack of genuine democracy in our economy as well as in our politics. The solution requires the institution of genuine economic democracy, starting with workers managing their own workplaces, as the basis for a genuine political democracy.

Here Richard D. Wolff lays out a hopeful and concrete vision of how to make that possible, addressing the many people who have concluded economic inequality and politics as usual can no longer be tolerated and are looking for a concrete program of action.

Richard D. Wolff is professor of Economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a visiting professor at the New School University in New York. Wolff is the author of many books, including Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program Economic Update on WBAI (Pacifica Radio) and writes regularly for The Guardian, Truthout.org, and the MRZine.


There is one thing that moves online consumers to click “add to cart,” that allows sellers to accept certain forms of online payment, and that makes online product reviews meaningful: trust. Without trust, online interactions can’t advance. But how is trust among strangers established on the Internet? What role does reputation play in the formation of online trust? In eTrust, editors Karen Cook, Chris Snijders, Vincent Buskens, and Coye Cheshire explore the unmapped territory where trust, reputation, and online relationships intersect, with major implications for online commerce and social networking.

eTrust uses experimental studies and field research to examine how trust in anonymous online exchanges can create or diminish cooperation between people. The first part of the volume looks at how feedback affects online auctions using trust experiments. Gary Bolton and Axel Ockenfels find that the availability of feedback leads to more trust among one-time buyers, while Davide Barrera and Vincent Buskens demonstrate that, in investment transactions, the buyer’s own experience guides decision making about future transactions with sellers. The field studies in Part II of the book examine the degree to which reputation facilitates trust in online exchanges. Andreas Diekmann, Ben Jann, and David Wyder identify a “reputation premium” in mobile phone auctions, which not only drives future transactions between buyers and sellers but also payment modes and starting bids. Chris Snijders and Jeroen Weesie shift focus to the market for online programmers, where tough competition among programmers allows buyers to shop around. The book’s third section reveals how the quality and quantity of available information influences actual marketplace participants. Sonja Utz finds that even when unforeseen accidents hinder transactions—lost packages, computer crashes—the seller is still less likely to overcome repercussions from the negative feedback of dissatisfied buyers.

So much of our lives are becoming enmeshed with the Internet, where ordinary social cues and reputational networks that support trust in the real world simply don’t apply. eTrust breaks new ground by articulating the conditions under which trust can evolve and grow online, providing both theoretical and practical insights for anyone interested in how online relationships influence our decisions.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

Conventional wisdom holds that trust is essential for cooperation between individuals and institutions—such as community organizations, banks, and local governments. Not necessarily so, according to editors Karen Cook, Margaret Levi, and Russell Hardin. Cooperation thrives under a variety of circum-stances. Whom Can We Trust? examines the conditions that promote or constrain trust and advances our understanding of how cooperation really works.

From interpersonal and intergroup relations to large-scale organizations, Whom Can We Trust? uses empirical research to show that the need for trust and trustworthiness as prerequisites to cooperation varies widely. Part I addresses the sources of group-based trust. One chapter focuses on the assumption—versus the reality—of trust among coethnics in Uganda. Another examines the effects of social-network position on trust and trustworthiness in urban Ghana and rural Kenya. And a third demonstrates how cooperation evolves in groups where reciprocity is the social norm. Part II asks whether there is a causal relationship between institutions and feelings of trust in individuals. What does—and doesn’t—promote trust between doctors and patients in a managed-care setting? How do poverty and mistrust figure into the relations between inner city residents and their local leaders? Part III reveals how institutions and networks create environments for trust and cooperation. Chapters in this section look at trust as credit-worthiness and the history of borrowing and lending in the Anglo-American commercial world; the influence of the perceived legitimacy of local courts in the Philippines on the trust relations between citizens and the government; and the key role of skepticism, not necessarily trust, in a well-developed democratic society.

Whom Can We Trust? unravels the intertwined functions of trust and cooperation in diverse cultural, economic, and social settings. The book provides a bold new way of thinking about how trust develops, the real limitations of trust, and when trust may not even be necessary for forging cooperation.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

The chapters in this collection address a variety of concerns in organizational theory, ranging from the evolution of organizations and cross-cultural analyses of managerial behavior to the micro-sociology of knowledge brokering within organizations and the etiology of organizational messes. Swaminathan, examines resource partitioning theory, an important theoretical perspective in population ecology. The next three chapters, broadly construed, address issues of organizational innovation, learning, and adaptation in complex environments. The next contribution, by John Carroll, Jenny Rudolph, and Sachi Hatakenaka examines how high-hazard organizations learn from experience. As with all organizations, high-hazard organizations such as nuclear power plants and chemical plants attempt to learn from experience in order to improve performance and, of course, to avoid catastrophic failure. Unlike many other kinds of organizations, however, failure to learn from prior experience-especially with respect to learning effectively from errors and mishaps-can prove extremely costly and even fatal. Hence, these organizations must balance between learning and control, and must do so under conditions of considerable oversight and scrutiny. provocative analysis of the role disorganization plays in organizational life. The two following chapters in this volume provide important overviews of theory and research on classic phenomena within organizational theory, followed by original theoretical syntheses. Robert Baron's chapter then undertakes a fresh and useful examination of the burgeoning literature on entrepreneurship and the two final chapters in the volume examine essential issues related to our understanding of organizations and the cultural environments in which they are embedded.
Leading scholars in the field of social networks from diverse disciplines present the first systematic and comprehensive collection of current theories and empirical research on the informal connections that individuals have for support, help, and information from other people. Expanding on concepts originally formulated by Pierre Bourdieu and James Coleman, this seminal work will find an essential place with educators and students in the fields of social networks, rational choice theory, institutions, and the socioeconomics of poverty, labor markets, social psychology, and race.

The volume is divided into three parts. The first segment clarifies social capital as a concept and explores its theoretical and operational bases. Additional segments provide brief accounts that place the development of social capital in the context of the family of capital theorists, and identify some critical but controversial perspectives and statements regarding social capital in the literature. The editors then make the argument for the network perspective, why and how such a perspective can clarify controversies and advance our understanding of a whole range of instrumental and expressive outcomes.

Social Capital further provides a forum for ongoing research programs initiated by social scientists working at the crossroads of formal theory and new methods. These scholars and programs share certain understandings and approaches in their analyses of social capital. They argue that social networks are the foundation of social capital. Social networks simultaneously capture individuals and social structure, thus serving as a vital conceptual link between actions and structural constraints, between micro- and macro-level analyses, and between relational and collective dynamic processes. They are further cognizant of the dual significance of the "structural" features of the social networks and the "resources" embedded in the networks as defining elements of social capital.

Nan Lin is professor of sociology, Duke University.

Karen Cook is Ray Lyman Wilber Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Stanford University.

Ronald S. Burt is Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

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