Affectual Trust and Internal NetworksLouise Young
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
While trust is increasingly recognised as central to the functioning of relationships generally and tobusiness relationships in particular, there has been very little attention paid to the nature of theexperience of trust – as distinct from its antecedents and outcomes. In addition, trust has remained arelation-centric construct. This paper presents an affect-based framework for trust consisting of cognitive and emotional elements. This is used to consider the internal network of an organisationconcerned with service delivery based on in-depth interviews with service providers talking about their jobs and their employer. The affect-based framework, combined with theories of cognitivebalance, allow us to understand the importance of the trust context, in this case the context that hasled to distancing within this network and to consider the reasons for this distance. Keywords: networks, trust, service, satisfaction, emotions, affects
Affectual Trust and Internal Networks
Social scientists have long recognised the centrality of trust. The ability to trust enables humans tointeract in close relationships and is essential for psychological health and development (Asch,1952; Barber 1983; Eriksson, 1959). Trust is also important in business context exchanges such as buyer-seller relations, employee-employer and other internal relationships (Argyle 1972, Blau 1964,Kanter 1977). Despite recognition of the centrality of trust in human behaviour, the nature of ‘trust’ remains unclear because as we have argued in earlier work (Young 1993, 1996, 2001, Albaumand Young 1997, 2000) the focus of study has been on the antecedents and outcomes of trust.The purpose of this paper is to develop a greater understanding of the nature of trust in the properties of an internal network. The study focuses on the workers of a large Australian companyand specifically on the configuration and nature of the trust-rich and trust-deficient parts of their network. Trust and its impact are considered within a framework that considers trust as a varyingaffect, that is, as an interacting set of emotions and assessments. Growing distrust and suspicionare shown to be substantial influencers of some parts of the network with other, more positiveaffects dominant in other parts of the network. The paper closes with a discussion of the value of researching trust and balance in networks and the way managers might build trust.
An Alternative Conceptualisation of Trust
Most often trust has been considered in terms of the conditions that engender it and/or benefits thatarise from it. Typologies of trust differentiate it according to how much there is, what is based on(e.g. contract, good will, etc. as per Sako 1997) longevity (short term or long term as per Meyersonet al 1996) or strength (fragility or resilience as per Ring 1996) rather than on its nature. Work