Smart development of organizational trust: dilemmas and paradoxes

Giedrius Jucevičius, Rita Juceviciene


Purpose. The main purpose of the paper is to discuss the smart development of organizational trust by addressing its key tensions and contradictions.


Methodology. The paper relies on the dialectical approach of dilemmas and paradoxes that surround the process of trust building. First, development of trust is perceived as a complex and organic process of bottom-up social interaction, not a product of mechanistic and interventionist top-down management. Thus, we rely on the complex dynamic systems approach (e.g. Glouberman and Zimmerman, 2002). Second, we regard trust development as continuous management of contradictions, thus we incorporate some key approaches of moral philosophy (“making tough choices in dilemma situations”) into the development of trust.


Results. The dilemmas surrounding the development of organizational trust (e.g. short-term goals vs. long-term goals, performance vs. relationships, etc.) can be addressed based on three different ways of thinking stemming from the key streams of moral philosophy: ends-based thinking or utilitarianism (“do whatever produces the greatest good for the greatest number”), rule-based or deontological thinking (“follow the principle that you want everyone else to follow”) and care-based thinking (“do to others what you would like them to do to you”). Thus, smart development of organizational trust takes into account the inherent contradictions among organizational values, interests and goals. It seeks to align them in sustainable and productive ways in order to create value for organization and its stakeholders (despite their potential contradictions).


The theoretical contribution. The existing theoretical research on trust does not sufficiently address the key dilemmas confronted by management. So far there was no attempt to link the dilemmas of trust development with the perspectives of moral philosophy.


Practical implications (if applicable). The paper should enrich the manager’s mindsets in resolving the complex situations of trust building.

Keywords: trust, smart development, dilemmas, organization, moral philosophy


Paper type: This is a theoretical paper that attempts to combine the theoretical perspectives on trust building with major dialectic approaches of moral philosophy.


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