Scholarly interest in the study of trust and distrust in organizations has grown dramatically over the past five years. This interest has been fueled, at least in part, by accumulating evidence that trust has a number of important benefits for organizations and their members. A primary aim of this review is to assess the state of this rapidly growing literature. The review examines recent progress in conceptualizing trust and distrust in organizational theory, and also summarizes evidence regarding the myriad benefits of trust within organizational systems. The review also describes different forms of trust found in organizations, and the antecedent conditions that produce them. Although the benefits of trust are well-documented, creating and sustaining trust is often difficult. Accordingly, the chapter concludes by examining some of the psychological, social, and institutional barriers to the production of trust.
*Reprinted in R. Bachmann & A. Zaheer (Eds.), Landmarks of the Debate on Trust, Edward Elgar Publications, July 2008.