Exploring trust relationships during times of change

  • Von der Ohe H
  • Martins N
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Orientation: In the current economic climate and the resulting fast-changing global business and political environment, trust among different role players in organisations has become critical for survival.Research purpose: The objective of this study was to explore the impact of different variables such as demographics on trust relationships in South African organisations.Motivation for the study: Anecdotal evidence and preliminary data collected for a national trust indicator seemed to suggest a shift in trust levels in organisations.Research design: A trust questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 307 respondents in all economic sectors. Parametric and nonparametric analyses were used to determine significant differences among economic sectors, job levels and sample periods.Main findings: No significant differences were found for job levels or the different sample periods. However, significant differences were found for the economic sectors and, specifically, between government participants and other sectors for the dimensions of change, team management, organisational trust, information sharing and credibility.Practical implications: In times of change, leadership in organisations need to be aware of the impact on trust levels. It is therefore important that leaders in government focus more on trust-enhancing behaviours needed to repair mistrust in organisations.Contribution: Although the effect of time on trust levels is inconclusive, the clearly differing levels of trust in various economic sectors point to the importance of appropriate and fitting approaches to building trust and not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude.




Von der Ohe, H., & Martins, N. (2010). Exploring trust relationships during times of change. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.256

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