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Trust Can Make or Unmake Organizations - Essay Example

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When Hong Kong was scheduled to revert back to China on July 1, 1977 under an agreement signed between the British and the Chinese in 1984, there was great concern and fear among the populace of Hong Kong. The handover was announced to the world at least five years before…
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Trust Can Make or Unmake Organizations
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Hong Kong had been a bastion of capitalism for so long, hopping and prospering in a nearly unbridled free enterprise system that it looked at mainland China as untrustworthy as the new lord and master of a freedom and fun-loving group of people. China was of course known for its regimented economic and political life as well as its severe, heavy-handed style of communist rule. Their minds made up on the undesirability of Chinese control, many business interests fled Hong Kong before the Chinese took over. But just as many companies stayed - and found that the earlier fears and feelings of distrust by the others were unfounded. The Chinese let the former British colony live the way it used to and in fact opened up mainland China to fresh winds of reforms.

What happened in Hong Kong was an example of how lack of trust and full understanding of how trust operates can blindside people and in the process erode the level of economic activity and the quality of life desired for everyone. This is one of the reasons why the formal study of trust is attracting a lot of interest among scholars in the fields of international relations, political science, psychology and sociology, management and economics, and conflict analysis. Results of the initial studies confirm that people suspect or mistrust others based on surface impressions. More important, they cannot work together as a group without each appreciating the value of trust.

Trust is a key enabler of cooperative human actions (D'Amico, L., 2003). The intensified studies on trust in many relevant fields in effect recognize the importance of cooperative behavior to the success of any human endeavor and, consequently, to the success or failure of an organization. It was found that trust leads two other basic mechanisms by which such cooperation can be achieved in human behavior, the other two being power and the market.
These mechanisms come into play through three types of trust:
Type A - The relationship between two parties is based on a system of sanctions or incentives, which could be economic (fines, rewards, etc.) or social (black listing or alienation), put up to ensure that one does not abuse the trust of the other.
Type B - Confidence is based on personal relations or trust. Thus, John would not abuse Joe's trust because to do so would damage their friendship and John believes that Joe values such friendship.
Type C - The relationship is hinged on abstract systems (money tokens, for example) and social institutions (professional and trade associations) and hence avails of market forces.

Lewis & Weigert define trust as "a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that extends to both the personal and impersonal, and to situational and across-situational contexts." This means that trusting or depending on another is based on a given situation, such that the decision to trust is formed tentatively and conditionally until the other person or institution proves to be unworthy of the trust. The other way around happened to the companies that opted to stay in Hong Kong despite earlier misgivings about the fair-mindedness of Chinese decision-makers. In time, China proved worthy of said companies' trust .
In the concept of trust set by Harrison, et al. trust can be a behavior, an expectancy, an attitude, a confidence, a belief or set of beliefs, and a situational, dispositional, structural or interpersonal variable. To trust ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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