The Relationship between Employer / Employee Trustand the Antecedents of TrustUniversity of Western SydneyAbstractMayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995) proposed that the degree of trust which Person A has in Person B depends largely on Person A’s perception of Person B. In particular, Person A will evaluate Person B in terms of three perceived qualities, namely ability, integrity and benevolence. The current study aims to investigate the relationship between a person’s level of trust in another person and these three antecedents (perceived ability, integrity and benevolence). Two sets of perceptions were studied, firstly an employee’s perceptions of a supervisor, and secondly the supervisor’s perceptions of an employee.
Each of the three antecedents was correlated with an overall measure of how comfortable the person would feel in trusting the other party. The three antecedents were also correlated with each other. The sample consisted of 266 undergraduate students at the University of Western Sydney. Participants completed two measures, one assessing perceptions held by the employee about the supervisor, and another assessing perceptions held by the supervisor about the employee. The results did not indicate a particularly strong or clear relationship between the three antecedents and the overall level of trust, and thus did not provide empirical evidence in support of Mayer et al. ’s theory. The Antecedents of TrustRotter’s (1967) attempts to measure and understand interpersonal trust provided a foundation for the study of this important field of human relations.
More recently, Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995) proposed that the degree of trust which one person has for another person depends on four variables. Three of these variables relate to the perceived qualities of the trustee (the person to be trusted or distrusted), and the fourth is a trait of the trustor (the person who is doing the trusting or mistrusting).
The same principles apply when it is organizations rather than individuals that are attempting to establish trust (Schoorman, Mayer, & Davis, 2007). However, in the case of organizations, there are often control mechanisms which either support the development of trust or actually hinder it (Schoorman et al. , 1996; Schoorman et al. , 2007; McEvily, Perrone, & Zaheer, 2003; Sitkin & George, 2005). As organizations become increasingly multicultural, it is no longer possible for people to trust others merely because they come from the same cultural or gender background, and more understanding of positive ways of developing trust in organizations is needed (Schoorman et al. , 2007; Williams, 2001). The important qualities of the trustee—as perceived by the trustor—are ability, integrity and benevolence, and these are referred to as the antecedents of trust (Mayer et al. , 1995).
Ability refers to skills and competence in the specific, relevant area or domain; integrity refers to a value system or guiding principles which the trustor finds acceptable; and benevolence refers to altruism or unselfish, kindly intentions towards the trustor or other people (Mayer et al. , 1995; Davis, Schoorman, Mayer, & Tan, 2000).
Propensity to trust is a trait of the trustor, and it affects how quickly the trustor tends to trust or mistrust another person in the absence of any other information about the trustee’s personal qualities (Mayer et al. , 1995). The propensity to trust appears to have strong cultural determinants (Schoorman et al, 2007).