Prerequisites for Healthy Organizational Change

The Importance of Trust in Organizational Change

Author(s): Ole H. Sorensen and Peter Hasle

Pp: 10-20 (11)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805011610901010010

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Trust is important for successful organizational change and, because change processes are accelerating in contemporary organizations, trust and distrust are becoming increasingly important. Furthermore, change events transform the established social relations and therefore they can become a challenge to trust. Trust or distrust might therefore be different outcomes of change processes that will affect how future organizational changes can be implemented. These issues have been explored in two manufacturing firms where trust relations played a major role in the outcome of initiatives intended to improve the psychosocial working environment. Change events initiated a decline in trust. The management in one firm succeeded in introducing actions that were interpreted as trustworthy, thereby stopping the decline in trust. The management and employees in the other firm were stuck in a stalemate of distrust. Power disparity and uncertainty in change processes seem to compel the employees to make perpetual interpretations of management actions to discover possible motives. Thereby, seemingly small issues can be imbued with strong symbolic meanings that might threaten trust and hamper organizational change. A theoretical model is presented that describes the relations between change, trust, and interpretation.

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