Is employee and customer trust in business declining? Read on to explore recent research.

Effects of empowering leadership on followers’ trust in leaders and work outcomes 
From the perspective of the integrative model of organisational trust, this study proposes a multi-level model for whether, how, and when differentiated empowering leadership influences followers’ trust in leaders and their work outcomes. Drawing on a sample of 372 followers from 97 teams in China, it was found that the negative effect of differentiated empowering leadership on followers’ trust in leaders became salient when followers’ Chinese traditionality was low.

Moreover, followers’ trust in leaders mediated the effect of differentiated empowering leadership and Chinese traditionality on followers’ in-role performance, extra-role performance, and counterproductive work behaviours toward the organisation. These findings have implications for managerial theory and practice in the domains of trust and differentiated empowering leadership.

Shao-Long Li, Yuanyuan Huo & Li-Rong Long. 2017. Chinese Traditionality Matters: Effects of Differentiated Empowering Leadership on Followers’ Trust in Leaders and Work Outcomes.
Journal of Business Ethics, 145(1), 81–93.


Stakeholder trust in business and the role of personal values 
Declining levels of stakeholder trust in business are of concern to business executives and scholars for legitimacy- and performance-related effects. Research in the area of stakeholder trust in business is nascent; therefore, the trust formation process has been rarely examined at the stakeholder level.

Furthermore, the role of personal values as one significant influence in trust formation has been under-researched. In this paper, the authors develop a contingency model for stakeholder trust formation based on the effects of stakeholder-specific vulnerability and personal values of the trustor. Using a factorial vignette methodology, the authors find that Schwartz’s (J Soc Issues 50:19–45, 1994) value set interacts with stakeholder roles so that trustworthiness signals of competence and character play differing roles during trust formation.

These results inform stakeholder trust research, organisational trust research, and research in personal values. The research also informs managers tasked with rebuilding stakeholder trust in business.

Michael Pirson, Kirsten Martin & Bidhan Parmar. 2017. Formation of Stakeholder Trust in Business and the Role of Personal Values.
Journal of Business Ethics, 145(1), 1–20.


The hidden side of trust in firefighters 
Some occupations and organisations rely heavily on trust, as their members’ roles involve risk and are interdependent. Trust can emerge from two sources: knowledge or evidence that is meaningful in that context, which has been studied extensively in the literature on trust, and faith, which has not.

Through a multi-phase, largely inductive study of firefighters in the United States, the authors explore processes that facilitate and maintain leaps of faith. These processes are critical to trust under high uncertainty, when direct experience in a task domain is chronically limited, as is the case in this context because very few calls coming into a fire station are fire related.

The authors suggest that leaps of faith are initiated and perpetuated through two sets of dynamics: supporting and sustaining. Supporting dynamics, such as telling stories about fighting fires, evoke domain-relevant standards that are applied to weak, non-domain-specific evidence, such as how routine tasks are performed at the fire station, to help members feel a sense of certainty about whom to trust. Sustaining dynamics both limit the impact of new evidence about trustworthiness and bolster one’s sense of certainty surrounding existing evidence.

These two sets of dynamics, embedded in broader task and occupational conditions, act together as a largely closed system that allows trustors to be at peace with the uncertainty surrounding trust assessments—they make leaps of faith possible by increasing certainty and inhibiting doubt. This study helps address key questions in both psychological and sociological treatments of trust, exploring an enigmatic phenomenon core to the concept of trust but rarely examined.

Michael G. Pratt, Douglas A. Lepisto & Erik Dane. 2018. The Hidden Side of Trust: Supporting and Sustaining Leaps of Faith among Firefighters.
Administrative Science Quarterly, Article first published online: April 4.


Ethical environment and information credibility in online communities  
With the increasing popularity of social media, a new ethics debate has arisen over marketing and technology in the current digital era. People are using online communities but they have concern about information credibility through word of mouth in these platforms.

Social media is becoming increasingly influential in shaping individuals’ decision-making as more and better quality information about products is made available. In this research, a social word-of-mouth model proposes using a survey to test the model in a popular travel community. The model highlights the role of social media and social support in social networking sites (SNSs), identifying increasing credibility and information usefulness resulting in an ethical environment to adopt word of mouth. The theoretical and practical implications of the study are both detailed.

Read this article in full online for free.

Nick Hajli. 2018. Ethical Environment in the Online Communities by Information Credibility: A Social Media Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(4), 799–810.


Mutual trust between leader and follower, and employee outcomes 
Stable and enduring cooperative relationships among people are primarily based on mutual trust. However, little evidence exists about the effects of mutual trust between supervisor and subordinate on work outcomes. To understand better the dynamics of trust in supervisor–subordinate relationships, the authors examined how mutual trust between supervisor and subordinate is associated with work outcomes.

Based on a sample of 247 subordinate–supervisor pairs, multilevel analyses revealed a positive effect of perceived mutual trust on task performance and interpersonal facilitation after controlling for trust in leader and felt trust. In addition, task performance and interpersonal facilitation increased as trust in leader and felt trust or trust in subordinate both increased.

Tae-Yeol Kim, Jie Wang & Junsong Chen. 2018. Mutual Trust Between Leader and Subordinate and Employee Outcomes. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(4), 945–958.


Value congruence and employees’ trust in the organisation
Research on value congruence rests on the assumption that values denote desirable behaviours and ideals that employees and organisations strive to approach. In the present study, the authors develop and test the argument that a more complete understanding of value congruence can be achieved by considering a second type of congruence based on employees’ and organisations’ counter-ideal values (i.e., what both seek to avoid).

The authors examined this proposition in a time-lagged study of 672 employees from various occupational and organisational backgrounds. The authors used difference scores as well as polynomial regression and response surface analyses to test these hypotheses.

Consistent with the hypotheses, results reveal that counter-ideal value congruence has unique relations to employees’ trust in the organisation that go beyond the effects of ideal value congruence. The authors discuss theoretical and practical implications of this expanded perspective on value congruence.

Sebastian C. Schuh, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Natalija Keck, Anja S. Göritz, David De Cremer and Katherine R. Xin. 2018. Does it Take More Than Ideals? How Counter-Ideal Value Congruence Shapes Employees’ Trust in the Organization.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(4), 987–1003.