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Trust restoration in workplace relationships: Multi-level analysis of (Mis)trusting

: Ikonen, M.; Savolainen, T.; Lopez-Fresno, P.; Kohl, H.

Bagnoli, C.:
8th European Conference on Intellectual Captial, ECIC 2016. Proceedings : Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy 12 - 13 May 2016
Reading: ACPI, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-910810-90-3
ISBN: 978-1-9108-1089-7
European Conference on Intellectual Captial (ECIC) <8, 2016, Venice>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IPK ()

Trust is emerging as more and more important intangible asset in organizations and their leadership to enable change and improved performance for achieving strategic goals. Trust forms a foundation for cooperation in workplace relationships. The paper discusses intellectual capital and its management looking at trust and trust development as intangible resource within organization and its work relationships. The paper focuses, more specifically, on analysing trusting, i.e. how trust or mistrust develops and trust is restored following the violation and breach of trust. Empirical findings are presented based on qualitative data from several sources. The aim of the paper is to increase understanding of trust development (mistrust and restoration). The purpose of the paper is to provide insights for further research and implications for both leadership practices and human capital skills development. Through building and sustaining trust (avoiding mistrust) in work relationships competences of human intellectual capital may be enhanced for enhancing business competitiveness. Studying mistrust and trust repair is important, as empirical studies of trust development show that the process is dynamic, rather sensitive and appears as "the dynamics of evil" which may be even unintentionally boosted. The process of trust development in inter-personal relations is perceived as 'wavelike' with splashes and calm, occurring in several episodes and phases. Interpersonal trust building begins as early as during the recruitment process and stage of initiation. If the opportunity and importance of trust-building is poorly understood and performed the initiation, for example, may lead to situations of mistrust and later on even in trust violations in trusting relationships between, say, the supervisor and subordinate unless, where trust between actors may need to be restored. In the theoretical section intellectual capital and its management is discussed. In order to operate in product and/or services markets, an organization combines different types of resources, intangible and tangible, such as human competencies, skills and knowledge, social structures, infrastructures and financial assets. Intangible resources have become a critical success factor for enterprises operating in a knowledge based economy. In the paper, distrust is dealt with in more detailed dealing with the situation of trust violation and breach. This paper adopts a relational view of trust meaning that trust is seen as intellectual, relational asset developed and sustained in interaction between people and forming a foundation for collaborative learning and co-operation in organizations. Trust is commonly reciprocal activity between individuals and within groups in organizations. It is built in interaction involving communication and other activities in daily operations. In today's management multi-channel communication occurs more and more technology-mediated which challenges ways, frequency and skills of interacting. The empirical part of the paper analyses trust in workplace relationships based on empirical qualitative data from multiple sources (case, narratives, interviews) and levels (individual, dyadic and group levels). The research questions are how mistrust develops and how trust is restored following trust violation or breach. The findings show that trust may be restored but it may be challenging. The paper suggests a few implications to avoid mistrust and restore trust. Leadership and leaders role in sustaining trust is also discussed.