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The ethics of leadership trust

A. Carol Rusaw (Department of Communications University of Southwestern Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana 70506)

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior

ISSN: 1093-4537

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



According to Exchange Theory, leaders and followers set goals and carry out actions by calculating interests, efforts required to achieve goals, and possible payoffs. Leaders and followers negotiate a relationship based on reciprocity. If leaders or followers fail to meet mutual expectations, however, the leader-follower relationship deteriorates. Reciprocity, the paper asserts, fails to build relationships of trust. To achieve trust, leaders have an ethical responsibility to reduce fear and increase follower participation. Through this, leaders help followers re-define norms and demonstrate behaviors that achieve a more humane work environment. The article identifies 11 variables that affect leader-follower relationships of trust and suggests areas for future inquiry and organizational change.


Rusaw, A.C. (2000), "The ethics of leadership trust", International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, Vol. 3 No. 3/4, pp. 547-569.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000 by Marcel Dekker, Inc.

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