The effectiveness of non-substantive and substantive responses in the repair of employee trust in management

Woodcock, Helena
The effectiveness of non-substantive and substantive responses in the repair of employee trust in management. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Employees’ trust in management is an important determinant of organizational effectiveness (Fukuyama, 1995). However, reports show that trust in management is generally low and reducing. The aim of the research documented in this thesis was to test the effectiveness of non-substantive responses (i.e., verbal) and substantive responses (i.e., behavioural) in the repair of employee trust in management, specifically supervisors, within a risk work context. The conditions under which these responses are effective, and the processes through which they operate, were also explored. Six empirical studies were carried out across gas, rail and healthcare industries. Using a combination of methods that drew on hypothetical, historical and real-time events, the studies revealed a number of key findings. First, the results showed an important role for the non-substantive response of an apology in the repair of employee trust. Non-substantive approaches that mitigate responsibility (i.e., justifications, denials, blame, excuses) were negatively related to trust. Second, a number of substantive responses were effective at repairing employee trust including a preventative procedure, monitoring and suspension. Analysis showed that these responses influenced employee trust by increasing perceptions of distributive justice, which increased the belief that management were repentant. Consistent with established research, repentance was positively related to trust. Interestingly, the results suggest that monitoring may reduce trust if it does not generate these mediating perceptions: a finding that was not shared with preventative procedures or suspension. Third, these main effects were moderated by the level of risk implicated in the event. When the risk is low, a non-substantive response was equally as effective in repairing employee trust as a substantive response. However, when risk is high, the combination of both a non-substantive and substantive response was required to repair trust. Fourth, in general, a substantive response implemented involuntarily (i.e., by the organization) was equally as effective as a response initiated voluntarily (i.e., by the member of management). Exceptions to this are when the target is of a high hierarchical status, and when an employee has been implicated in the event that reduced trust. In these cases, a voluntary response is more effective at repairing employee trust. Finally, preliminary results suggest implicit and explicit trust beliefs are largely separate constructs. Implicit trust beliefs are relatively stable therefore repair strategies need to be strong and targeted to impact upon these beliefs. This research has important practical and theoretical implications. At a theoretical level, the research supports proposals made in accordance with attribution theory, that responses that are internally attributed are most effective in the repair of trust, whereas externally attributed responses are less effective. As one of the first studies to empirically test the effectiveness of substantive responses, it also expands existing models of trust repair to show an important role that can be played by behavioural responses, especially in the repair of high-risk violations. At a practical level, the research suggests that organizations can take an active role in repairing relations between employees and management by implementing effective substantive responses that do not simply punish management, but serve as a learning tool to help address the underlying cause of the violation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2013-01 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Trust Repair, Management, Non-substantive, Substantive
Subjects: ?? BF ??
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2013 13:28
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 00:50
DOI: 10.17638/00011713
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