A search of Google Scholar indicates that books and journal papers to do with trust, organisations and leadership numbered a few hundred per annum during the 1960s, jumping to the low thousands during the 1970s, and approaching 10,000 per annum in the 1990s. During the early years of this century the number of publications has numbered around an average of 40,000 per year. These numbers indicate a major increase in, and concern about, the presence and role of trust in organisational life, including the exercise of leadership. In this note I want to give a brief indication of how this issue is approached in the management literature and how it is approached in the sociology literature. To aid in the comparing and contrasting I will draw on Hosmer’s[i] classification of four different approaches to understanding trust:
- Trust as an optimistic individual expectation, focusing on expectations that others will perform in competent and morally correct ways.
- Trust as an interpersonal relation, focusing on the dependence of the trustors on the trustees to respect the trustors’ interests. The relationship is one of vulnerability for the trustor.
- Trust as a rational decision to do with protecting one’s interests made after risk analysis or a calculation in terms of economic transactions costs (which I will not cover in this note).
- Trust and social structure. Continue reading