The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which measures and operationalisations of intra‐organisational trust reflect the essential elements of the existing conceptualisation of trust inside the workplace.
The paper provides an overview of the essential points from the rich variety of competing conceptualisations and definitions in the management and organisational literatures. It draws on this overview to present a framework of issues for researchers to consider when designing research based on trust. This framework is then used to analyse the content of 14 recently published empirical measures of intra‐organisational trust. It is noted for each measure the form that trust takes, the content, the sources of evidence and the identity of the recipient, as well as matters related to the wording of items.
The paper highlights where existing measures match the theory, but also shows a number of “blind‐spots” or contradictions, particularly over the content of the trust belief, the selection of possible sources of evidence for trust, and inconsistencies in the identity of the referent.
It offers researchers some recommendations for future research designed to capture trust among different parties in organisations, and contains an Appendix with 14 measures for intra‐organisational trust.
The value of the paper is twofold: it provides an overview of the conceptualisation literature, and a detailed content‐analysis of several different measures for trust. This should prove useful in helping researchers refine their research designs in the future.
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