Antecedents of trust in supervisors, subordinates, and peers

Dana L. Knoll (University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)
Harjinder Gill (University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is first, to assess the generalizability of the Integrative Model of organizational trust to the development of workplace trust in upward, downward, and lateral relationships. Second, it examines the relative importance of ability, benevolence, and integrity in predicting trust in supervisor, subordinate, and peer. Design/methodology/approach – Human resource professionals (n=187) from two sources (a human resource professionals’ organization and a large Canadian corporation) responded to an online survey.


The results indicate that the integrative model of organizational trust was applicable to trust in supervisor, subordinate, and peer. The results also suggest that the relative importance of ability, benevolence, and integrity in predicting trust differed according to the trustor‐trustee dyad.

Research limitations/implications

A potential limitation of this study is that data regarding trust in each of the three referents (supervisor, subordinate, and peer) were obtained from the same raters. These findings need to be replicated with multi‐source data.

Social implications

Given the necessity of trust for positive cooperative relationships, a better understanding of how to foster trustworthiness among individuals would be a benefit to society.

Practical implications

The findings provide valuable information for the development of effective and efficient trust‐building strategies for upward, downward, and lateral workplace relationships.


The paper describes a study which simultaneously examined trust in supervisor, trust in subordinate, and trust in peer. It also assessed the relative importance of the antecedents of trustworthiness across referent dyads using the relative weight analysis procedure strategy.



Knoll, D. and Gill, H. (2011), "Antecedents of trust in supervisors, subordinates, and peers", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 313-330.

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