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Employee trust repair after organizational change

Tiina Kähkönen (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 29 September 2020

Issue publication date: 2 December 2020




This study examines the trust-repair practices after organizational change.


Previous research on this topic is limited, so an abductive qualitative research approach was adopted. The data were collected from key informants through focus group discussions and interviews.


Beyond previous research findings, this study identified that employee trust can be repaired after benevolence-based trust violations by enforcing ethical behavior and fostering managers' emotional intelligence and after competence-based violations by fostering the sense-making process and by involving third parties in trust recovery. In addition, transparent information sharing and strong management actions predict positive trust outcomes in a change context.

Research limitations/implications

This paper makes three key contributions to the literature on organizational trust by (1) identifying trust violations after organizational change, (2) proposing a process model on trust repair and (3) extending understanding of trust repair practices by revealing new elements.

Practical implications

This study provides practical information from a real work context and can improve managers' understanding of active trust-repair practices.


This paper outlines active trust-repair practices in an organizational change context and expands the current theory by presenting novel insights into organizational trust repair. In addition, this paper contributes to the trust-repair literature by proposing promising avenues for future trust repair research.



The author would like to express her very great appreciation to Professor Kirsimarja Blomqvist, Associate Professor Mika Vanhala, Professor Guido Möllering as well as anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive suggestions during the development of this research work. Their willingness to give their time so generously has been very much appreciated.


Kähkönen, T. (2020), "Employee trust repair after organizational change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 1143-1161.



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