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Academy of Management Review 1998, Vol. 23, No. 3, 513-530.
MANAGERSAS INITIATORS TRUST:AN OF EXCHANGERELATIONSHIP FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING MANAGERIAL TRUSTWORTHY BEHAVIOR
ELLENM. WHITENER University of Virginia SUSAN E. BRODT Duke University M. AUDREY KORSGAARD University of South Carolina JON M. WERNER University ofWisconsin at Whitewater
In many approaches to interpersonal and organizational trust, researchers focus on employees' perceptions that their managers are trustworthy. We turn the tables, however, and examine the antecedents of managerial trustworthy behavior and the challenge of initiating trust. Drawing on agency and social exchange theories, we present an exchange relationship framework thatidentifies organizational, relational, and individual factors that encourage or constrain managerial trustworthy behavior.
Imagine driving into work one day and hearing over the radio that your employer had agreed to merge with a rival firm and that the combined company would probably employ at least 10 percent fewer workers. Ciba Geigy employees experienced this scenario in 1996, when they weresurprised to learn about their company's planned merger with Sandoz. In a perfect world, this would never happen. Good news or bad, employees could trust management to give it to them straight, to mean what it said, and always to follow through on promises. But corporate America in 1996is far from perfect. Management has lost credibility, employees are scared, and organizational trust has hit rockbottom (Caudron, 1996:20). At the same time that trust in organizations has hit "rock bottom," researchers have shown that interpersonal trust has significant relationships with many organizational variables, such as the quality of communication (e.g., Muchinsky, 1977; Roberts & O'Reilly, 1974a,b; Yeager, 1978), performance (Earley, 1986), citizenship behavior (McAllister, 1995), problem solving(Zand, 1972), and cooperation (Axelrod, 1984; Deutsch, 1962). Moreover, trust has long been considered funda513
mental to cooperative relationships (Blau, 1964; Deutsch, 1958). In recent reviews scholars have summarized common elements of the many different definitions of interpersonal trust (Hosmer, 1995; Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995). Drawing on these reviews and the work of others...