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Trust and distrust in safety leadership: mirror reflections?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2011
JournalSafety Science
Journal number8-9
Volume49
Number of pages7
Pages1208-1214
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Although research shows that employees' trust and distrust in management influences their safety behavior, less is known about how these attitudes develop. Based on two-factor models of trust, we hypothesize that distinct trustworthiness qualities precede the development of employees' trust and distrust in their supervisors. Eighty-five UK construction employees responded to a paired comparison test of trustworthiness qualities, which provided 56 and 53 consistent rankings for trust and distrust, respectively. Consistent with our hypotheses, integrity (measured through honesty) was found to be the most important attitude in the development of both trust and distrust, while a reversed ordering of importance emerged for ability (measured through competence) and benevolence (measured through concern) in the development of trust and distrust. In all cases, only a small number of qualities were most important in the development of each attitude. We discuss how safety initiatives that focus on trust might gain by addressing the qualities that we identify. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.