The purpose of this paper is to examine the important issue of trust in senior management in the public sector. More specifically, the research aims to explore to what extent has there been a downward spiral of trust in public sector senior management in the eyes of their employees in recent years, and whether this trend spans the public sector as a whole.
This paper draws on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies from two public sector organisations, which are of very different character. The question being asking of the data is whether a relatively similar percentage of the workforce lacks trust in senior management and whether this is for essentially the same reasons. An attitude survey of the population of both case study organisations was conducted in conjunction with focus groups.
The findings in the paper revealed two important matters. First, longitudinal data indicates that relative distrust of senior management is enduring and cannot be explained or rationalised by merely a short‐term breakdown of communication. The second conclusion from the data is that although the two case study organisations had dramatically different structural characteristics, histories and workforce compositions, the degree of lack of trust in senior management was remarkably similar both as regards extent and leading cause of this.
The findings from two very different public sector organisations suggest that there is a persistent lack of trust in senior management. This finding has important implications for managing the workforce as a lack of trust has significant implications for employee attitudes and behaviour.
This paper raises some important concerns with regards to the quality of the employee‐employer relationship in the public sector.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited