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Benefits of Pervasive Organizational Trust

18 September, 2015 - 16:47

When an organization has employees who are generally trusting of senior executives, then organizational trust is high. Previous research has shown a relationship between organizational trust and organizational learning, 1 hope, 2 and organizational innovation and change. 3 Effective followership requires the proper organizational context as well as effective and trustworthy leadership.

As discussed previously, organizational trust is fragile and can be destroyed relatively easily. However, motivated followers can be a source of competitive advantage, and trusting followers is fundamental to becoming a change-capable organization. Furthermore, it is becoming more valuable over time. Organizational trust provides an anchor and some stability when everything else is changing. Having some predictability and psychological safety when everything is in flux and changing is a valuable resource. 4

And there is some good news about organizational trust within the context of the larger environment. Previous research has shown that it is possible to build organizational trust in low-trust societal contexts. For example, one study found that some of the highest performing firms in post-Soviet Lithuania in the 1990s were those where organizational trust was relatively high. 5 Similarly, the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency survived and even prospered in the 1930s during the Great Depression in the United States due, in part, to the relatively high levels of organizational trust within that same organization. 6