Insights into trust


For the past year, Roffey Park in collaboration with colleagues at University of Chichester has focussed its research activities on the subject of trust.

Trust is a core value of OD practitioners and a facet of organisational life that any self-respecting people and organisational developer has their eye on. Trust is also essential to business and more widely, society. The reputational risk to businesses of a lack of public trust has been all too evident as one corporate behemoth after another struggles to recapture a positive image. Most recently, the news that HSBC, after several corporate scandals, was to rename itself the Midland Bank is perhaps a sign of the times. A corporate giant looking back into its past to recapture a time when people had more confidence in their banks and corporate institutions.   Our research has focussed on:

An employee perspective on organisational trust during change (led by Dr Sharon Varney and Julia Wellbelove, Senior Researcher at Roffey Park)

Exploring perceptions of organisational trustworthiness from the perspective of employees. (Exec summary and full report both available).

The Lived experience of trust (led by Dr Meysam Poorkavoos, Carol Hatcher and Andy Smith)

A longitudinal study, exploring in-depth experiences of key relationships at work.

The emergence of trusting relationships: stories and reflections (by Dr Rob Warwick and Dr Alison Donaldson)

How trusting relationships develop in the workplace and the consequences of losing trust.

Our focus in doing this research is to look at trust as a complex, dynamic phenomenon, elusive and yet very real. Unlike other research on trust, we focus less on frameworks and prescriptions of the type ‘do A, B and C and you will create trust’. Rather, we focus on the lived experience of trust, its meaning for individuals, and its essentially contingent nature. Trust is never final. We hope that in presenting accounts of others’ experiences, and our reflections on those experiences, that those involved in managing and working with others might give pause for thought about their own relationships and how they might work to improve them.

Watch our recent webinar – Building Trust in Organisations