Creating more trusting and trustworthy organizations: Exploring the foundations and benefits of presumptive trust

Creating more trusting and trustworthy organizations: Exploring the foundations and benefits of presumptive trust

Public Trust in Business. New York: Cambridge University Press,
2014, Pages 203-235

The situation Low trust has become virtually a default assumption, especially when it comes to the public’s expectations regarding the fundamental trustworthiness of American business and its leaders. Key questions What precisely can be done to remedy this low trust in business? How can it be “fixed”? Who should do it and how might they go about doing it? How does contemporary trust theory and research move us toward any useful answers to these important questions? New knowledge Presumptive trust – trust that is taken for granted – is one of the bedrocks of the high trust organization. It is only when trust has a solid, secure, and virtually taken-for-granted quality that it operates at maximum effectiveness and durability. Four key types of expectations are critical to presumptive trust in organizational settings: (1) identity-based expectations; (2) role-based expectations; (3) rule-based expectations; and (4) leader-based expectations. Key lessons Trust works best when it has acquired an almost tacit or taken-for-granted quality. The constructive role that leaders play in setting positive expectations regarding the general level of trust and trustworthiness within their organizations is key to the emergence and maintenance of presumptive trust. In situations where the costs of misplaced trust are high, too much presumptive trust can create potential vulnerabilities and risks. Presumptive trust, without actual trustworthiness, would be a hollow achievement and potentially sets the stage for costly abuses of the public’s trust.