Faculty Trust and Organizational ...
556 Educational Administration Quarterly Volume 45 Number 4 October 2009 556-589 �� 2009 The University Council for Educational Administration 10.1177/0013161X09335141 http://eaq.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com 556 Faculty Trust and Organizational School Characteristics An Exploration Across Secondary Schools in Flanders Dimitri Van Maele Mieke Van Houtte Ghent University Purpose: Teachers trusting other groups of actors in their school enhances a school���s functioning. Research relating teacher trust to school context has proven scarce, however. This study explores the extent to which teachers from a same school share a level of trust. Organizational value culture, size, and group composition are associated with faculty trust in students, parents, colleagues, and the principal. Research Design: Data were gathered via anonymous surveys completed by 2,104 teachers in 84 secondary schools in Flanders in the 2004-2005 school year. Measures for individual teachers��� trust were based on the scales developed by Hoy and Tschannen-Moran. To explore the existence of faculty trust, an index of mean rater reliability based on the intraclass correlation coefficient from a one-way analysis of variance was used. Findings: Faculty trust exists within Flemish secondary schools and is composed of four dimensions relating to four separate referents of trust. Organizational value culture, size, and composition affect the level of organizational trust in schools. Socioeconomic school composition heavily determines staff trust. Trust in colleagues is higher in private schools than in public schools. A high proportion of immigrant students lowers teachers��� trust in parents. Conclusions: Relating a staff���s academic culture and stu- dents��� study culture to teacher trust is advisable. For a successful implemen- tation of reform initiatives, schools with the described characteristics should adopt programs to enhance teacher trust. Principals and leaders should be aware of organizational characteristics affecting trust in schools. Keywords: trust teacher organization secondary school culture Authors��� Note: This article was presented at the European Conference on Educational Research of the European Educational Research Association, G��teborg, Sweden, September 8 to 12, 2008. We are grateful for the comments of the anonymous reviewers. Article at University of Bucharest on October 29, 2011 eaq.sagepub.com Downloaded from
Van Maele, Van Houtte / Faculty Trust and Organizational School Characteristics 557 Trust has paradoxically been viewed as both a glue and a lubricant. As ���glue��� trust binds organizational participants to one another���. As ���lubricant,��� trust greases the machinery of an organization. Tschannen-Moran, 2004, p. 15-16 This article explores the association between organizational school fea- tures and teachers��� trust. Trust has been a longstanding topic of discussion within organizational studies but has only recently been comprehensively analyzed within educational research (e.g., Bryk & Schneider, 2002 Goddard, Tschannen-Moran, & Hoy, 2001 Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 1999 Smith, Hoy, & Sweetland, 2001 Van Houtte, 2006b). The importance of research into the determinants of teacher trust is great though because trust is related to the effective functioning of the school (Bryk & Schneider, 2003 Kochanek, 2005 Louis, 2007 Troman, 2000 Uline, Miller, & Tschannen- Moran, 1998). For example, trust may influence students��� performances (Goddard et al., 2001) and may influence teachers��� functioning by affecting their (collective) sense of efficacy (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000 Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 1999) and job satisfaction (Van Houtte, 2006b). In addi- tion, trust in schools is a determinant of teachers��� collaboration (Tschannen- Moran, 2001), of successful teacher leadership (Muijs & Harris, 2006), and of a school���s capacity for building a professional learning community (Gamoran, Gunter, & Williams, 2005 Mulford, 2007 Tschannen-Moran, 2009). Moreover, A. Hargreaves (2007, p. 187) called trust the backbone of a strong and sustainable professional learning community. Given the significance of trusting relationships with regard to organiza- tional outcomes (e.g., Dirks & Ferrin, 2001 Leana & Van Buren, 1999), we intend to establish more insight into how organizational features��� organizational value culture, organizational size, and organizational group composition���relate to trust within the school context. Notwithstanding the growing interest in trust, remarkably little educational research (see Bryk & Schneider, 2002 Goddard et al., 2001 Smith et al., 2001 Van Houtte, 2006b, 2007) has systematically examined the association between organi- zational school characteristics and teacher trust. The present study aims to bridge this research gap using empirical analyses across secondary schools in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium) and can be situated within school effects studies, one of the three lines of research within the field of school effectiveness research (Reynolds, Teddlie, Creemers, Scheerens, & Townsend, 2000). School effects research covers large-scale studies relating school features to school outcomes. In view of certain at University of Bucharest on October 29, 2011 eaq.sagepub.com Downloaded from
558 Educational Administration Quarterly criticism that school effects research demonstrates a one-sided concentra- tion on cognitive outcomes of students (Coe & Fitz-Gibbon, 1998 Teddlie & Reynolds, 2001), we choose to pay attention to teachers in their role as trustor. This intention corresponds to a call to bring teachers back into edu- cational research (Bidwell, 2005, p. 20). Our purpose is not to assess how teachers instruct but to reveal associations between school features and teachers��� trust, the latter definitely influencing the way teachers do their work and interact with other significant actors in school (Bryk & Schneider, 2002 Kochanek, 2005 Troman, 2000). Hence, focusing on the relatedness of organizational school features and teachers��� trust will definitely inspire further school effects research. Our principal objective is to determine the incidence of a shared level of trust among teachers instructing in the same school. It is explored to what degree collective trust, that is, faculty trust, occurs among teachers of a same Flemish secondary school. Four dimensions of the concept faculty trust (Hoy & Kupersmith, 1985) are analyzed: faculty trust in students, in parents, in colleagues, and in principals. In response to a call for further investigation of the influence of school structures on faculty trust (Tschannen- Moran & Hoy, 2000, p. 586), we also look at school-level determinants of faculty trust, which are viewed as indicators of schools��� organizational value culture, size, and group composition. School size and school sector are taken into account as structural organizational characteristics and reflect organizational size and organizational value culture, respectively. Organizational group composition is reflected in schools��� socioeconomic, gender, and immi- grant composition. School type, indicating the tracks offered by a school, is another important organizational school feature influencing teacher trust (e.g., Van Houtte, 2006a, 2006b). In Flanders we have four main tracks: general, technical, vocational, and artistic education. These tracks are organ- ized not only within but also between schools. A side effect of this differen- tiation in tracks within the Flemish educational system is a differentiation according to socioeconomic status (SES Tan, 1998). Therefore, it is impos- sible to bring school type and SES context together in one analysis to see whether both influence teacher trust independently of each other. However, combining the former structural and compositional organizational features with regard to their relationship to the four dimensions of faculty trust rep- resents a unique approach, in our opinion, especially within a singular study in a European educational context. Before considering faculty trust and its possible determinants at the school level, trust within organizations and schools is discussed. Next, the methodological section of the article is presented, after which the empirical at University of Bucharest on October 29, 2011 eaq.sagepub.com Downloaded from
Van Maele, Van Houtte / Faculty Trust and Organizational School Characteristics 559 results are reported. We conclude with a discussion and with implications of our findings regarding faculty trust in Flanders���s secondary schools. Trust and Organizations Within organizational studies, trust has been linked to the effective functioning of the organization (e.g., Dirks & Ferrin, 2001 Kramer & Cook, 2004 Leana & Van Buren, 1999 Powell, 1996 Williamson, 1993). After all, trust may positively affect the attitudes, perceptions, behaviors, and performance outcomes of organizational members (see Costa, 2003 Cunningham & MacGregor, 2000). Because organizational members need to realize collective goals, they are dependent on one another. In such situations of interdependence, trust may reduce uncertainty (Luhmann, 1979) and enhance cooperation (Gambetta, 1988). Early studies on trust described the concept in behavioral terms (Deutsch, 1958 Zand, 1972), whereas later on trust was defined as an attitude or judgment as well (Frost, Stimpson, & Maughan, 1978 Rotter, 1967). More contemporary definitions have highlighted the complexity and multidimen- sionality of a trusting relationship (Baier, 1986 Cummings & Bromiley, 1996 Schoorman, Mayer, & Davis, 2007). Within such a framework, Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995) defined trust as the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action impor- tant to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party. (p. 712) As interdependence is recognized as a necessary condition within trust rela- tions (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998), vulnerability is assumed to be a general aspect of trust (e.g., Coleman, 1990 Rousseau et al., 1998 Schoorman et al., 2007 Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2000). Furthermore, Mayer et al. indicated some characteristics specific to a party that influence the willingness of another party to risk engagement in a relationship with the former, namely, ability, benevolence, and integrity. These factors are supposed to explain a major portion of trustworthiness within an organiza- tional setting involving a trusting party (trustor) and a party to be trusted (trustee) (Driscoll, 1978 Scott, 1980). According to Shamir and Lapidot (2003), three levels of trust are impor- tant in analyzing trusting relationships in organizations. Social psychological at University of Bucharest on October 29, 2011 eaq.sagepub.com Downloaded from
560 Educational Administration Quarterly theories see trust as an interpersonal phenomenon and conceive of it as a psychological state at the individual level (cf. Kramer, 1999). In contrast, the sociological literature emphasizes the systemic level in viewing trust as a quality of the social system that enables the maintenance of social order within the system (cf. Parsons, 1951). In addition, the group level is impor- tant regarding trust in organizations. After all, trust is likely to be a collec- tive phenomenon because of social information processes. Furthermore, group processes are likely to act as bridging mechanisms between the sys- temic and personal levels (Shamir & Lapidot, 2003). In exploring the degree of collective trust among a staff and in establishing associations with organizational school features, we account for the group and systemic levels. Three distinct organizational characteristics are set to determine organizational trust in schools because of their influence on the interactions taking place among the members of organizations. First, organ- izational value culture (Schein, 2004) could relate to organizational trust as shared values create cohesiveness among the members, as such reflecting an organization���s social capital (Coleman, 1990 Leana & Van Buren, 1999). Next, organizational size influences employee and organizational outcomes (e.g., Beyer & Trice, 1979 Hall, Johnson, & Haas, 1967). As the number of organizational members increases, the quality of employee rela- tions may be reduced (Talacchi, 1960), which could lead to a decrease of organizational trust. Finally, organizational group composition determines employee attitudes and social relations within organizations (Pfeffer, 1997, pp. 81-99). Because people tend to put their trust in others with whom they share social similarities (Zucker, 1986), we assume that the social composition of schools will influence the level of trust present in those organizations. Trust and Schools As trust is linked to a better functioning of organizations, trust can be assumed to positively affect the functioning and effectiveness of schools (Bryk & Schneider, 2002 Kochanek, 2005 Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 1998), although schools are characterized as a particular kind of organiza- tion (Bidwell, 1970 Ingersoll, 2005). It is necessary to ask, however, why teachers��� trust should enhance a school���s effectiveness. The fact that trust relations are an integral part of an organization���s social capital���a central determinant of an organization���s functioning (Coleman, 1990 Leana & Van Buren, 1999)���comes to the fore at this point. Interpersonal trust enhances at University of Bucharest on October 29, 2011 eaq.sagepub.com Downloaded from