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Character-Based Determinants of Trust in Leaders

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Trust is a prominent determinant of effective interpersonal relationships, group process, and organizational development. However, for leaders and managers, trust building is often problematic. The aim of this article is to contribute to a growing understanding of the way in which individual managers can develop trust in organizations, particularly those defined by medium to high risk. The article presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the nature of trust at work. Building on the results of an earlier study, use is made of the facet-theoretical approach to generate a definitional framework of trust, which focuses on the characteristics of the trusted person that contribute to the development of trust. Using items developed on the basis of a mapping sentence, hypotheses regarding the relations between the definitional framework and empirical observations were tested through smallest space analysis (SSA) of data collected from a sample of 398 bank and hospital employees. The results demonstrate strong support for the definitional system and show a clear association with results of prior research that identify perceptions of ability, integrity, fairness, and openness as key determinants of trust. The empirical structure clearly reflects the attitudinal nature of interpersonal trust at work and the items empirically distinguish distinct character-based components of trust.
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Keywords: Character-based trust; facet theory; leadership; smallest space analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Western Australia, Australia.

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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