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Trust that binds : the influence of collective felt trust on responsibility norms and organizational outcomes Deutsch Salamon, Sabrina

Abstract

Significant attention has been dedicated to understanding the determinants for and the consequences of trusting another. Yet, extant literature provides little insight into whether, and how, the extent to which individuals' attitudes and behavior are impacted by how much they believe they are trusted by others. Drawing predominantly on social exchange and social identity theories, I developed and empirically tested a model of how employees respond to the extent they perceive to be trusted by management. In this model, employees' collective felt trust was expected to affect engagement in productive and counterproductive behaviors through its effect on the responsibility norms that develop among employees. A large retail organization with 88 operationally independent plants throughout Canada took part in this study. The data was collected from two sources: survey data from employees working in these plants, and archival records of the company. Survey data was collected at two points in time, a year apart. 3683 employees completed the survey in the first wave, and 4751 employees completed the survey in the second wave. Overall, the results support the contention that employees' collective felt trust affects both responsibility norms and organizational outcomes. As expected, collective felt trust was positively related to productive behaviors (organizational performance and prosocial behavior). Some support was obtained to the prediction that collective felt trust hinders counter-productive behavior. Lower absenteeism rates were present in plants with higher collective felt trust, however no relationship was found between employees' collective felt trust and shrinkage rates of the plants. Some support was found to the prediction that responsibility norms mediated the collective felt trust-organizational outcomes relationship. Responsibility norms mediated the relationship between collective felt trust and performance.

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