Trust is commonly described as a leap of faith one takes in the face of incomplete information. More specifically, trust is a psychological state involving positive expectations about another’s actions despite vulnerability to the other’s actions. Studies have supported theoretical assertions that trust is related not to gullibility, but rather to the ability to take appropriate risks. Thus, trust within organizations is associated with a number of favorable organizational outcomes and is considered a desirable state.

Referents of Trust

There are as many as five primary referents of trust within organizations, which vary according to the party being trusted (i.e., the referent):

  • Organizational trust. Trust placed in the system that the organization represents
  • Trust in management (also trust in leadership or superiors). Trust placed in the collective people who ...
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