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In whom we trust? A framework for understanding the moral agency in organizational trust

Faculty Advisor




organizational behavior, business ethics

Abstract (summary)

Among the wide variety of morally charged concepts, trust has probably received the most scholarly attention in organization studies of the recent decades. The most recent development in this growing literature focuses on the role of the agency of involved actors in processes of trust creation, maintenance, and repair. This paper aims to contribute to this conversation through examining the role of the trustee's moral agency. Drawing on the Emirbayer and Mische's (1998) temporal framework of agency, we discuss how each temporal dimension of agency — iterative, projective, and practical-evaluative — forms a different basis for trusting an organization. We also formulate a number of propositions to specify the circumstances under which each dimension of moral agency becomes salient in generating perceptions of trustworthiness. We conclude by discussing how the primary basis of trust-based decision making may change as a function of contextual factors such as the history of the relationship, the degree of stability of the environment, and the balance of power between the trustor and the trustee.

Publication Information

Saghafian, Marzieh, and Masoud Shadnam. "In Whom We Trust? A Framework for Understanding the Moral Agency in Organizational Trust." In Psychology of Morality: New Research. Edited by Miranda Fuller, 61–76. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2016.



Item Type

Book Chapter




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