Outcomes of Organizational Trust: A Meta-Analytic Examination Across Referents, Cultures, and Levels



To-date, an impressive body of findings has demonstrated that organizational trust promotes productive behaviors and positive attitudes, while also deterring counterproductive behaviors and negative attitudes. However, questions regarding whether and how the effects of trust vary across referents of trust, societal cultures, and levels of analysis have largely remained unanswered. The current meta-analysis aims to address these questions across a range of performance and attitudinal outcomes, cumulating evidence from 366 independent samples at the individual and 155 samples at the unit level. While our findings consistently demonstrate differential effects of trust referents across outcomes, they provide only partial support for the target similarity approach, which holds that trust exerts a stronger effect when the referent of trust and target outcome are commensurate. Furthermore, contrary to situational strength theorizing, we find little evidence that cultural tightness and power distance weaken the effects of trust, and even find support for a strengthening effect. Finally, in line with our predictions, we find consistent support for a lack of identical homology, with trust-outcome relationships being stronger at the unit than at the individual level. We also find that unit-level trust consensus can account for this lack of homology with regard to task performance. In providing meta-analytic insight into trust across referents, cultures, and levels, our study integrates and extends beyond prior meta-analyses, and makes three distinct theoretical contributions that align with “construct splitting”, “horizontal contrasting”, and “vertical contrasting” approaches to theory elaboration. 


Bart de Jong (PhD 2010, VU Amsterdam) is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Peter Faber Business School at Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on trust, teams, and the combination of both (team trust), which he examines through primary (survey) studies and meta-analyses. His work has been published in scholarly journals such as Academy of Management Journal (AMJ)Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP), and Organization Science, and several of his conference papers have appeared in the Academy of Management (AOM) Best Paper Proceedings. He currently serves on the editorial review boards of AMJ and JAP, has received multiple Outstanding Reviewer Awards from the former journal, and is one of the incoming Associate Editors for AMJ’s new editorial team (starting 2020). He recently reviewed for the Dutch Research Council (PhD proposals, 2017) and the Australian Research Council (ERA submissions, 2018). In 2014, Bart received a €250,000 early career grant (VENI) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to pursue his interest in trust asymmetry in teams. His teaching focuses predominately on research design and methods at the Bachelor, Master, and PhD level. Besides teaching at his own university, he also recently taught a PhD course on “Advanced Topics in OB” at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and a PhD workshop on “Practical Meta-Analysis” at Deakin University (in his role as Associate Member of the Deakin Lab for the Meta-Analysis of Research). Bart is an active member of the OB Division of the AOM Annual Meeting, and has been (and continues to be) involved in multiple (award) committees, professional development workshops, and symposia.

On June 26, from 10 am till 1 pm, Bart de Jong will give a meta-analysis workshop. If you would like to have a one-on-one meeting with Bart de Jong to discuss your meta-analysis-in-progress, please contact Sofya Isaakyan. Information about this workshop will be sent out soon.