Trust and the Lifecycle of Organizations

  • John G. Bruhn
Part of the Clinical Sociology book series (CSRP)

Abstract

A friend related the following story. He had accepted a position as a Vice President in a large corporation but would not assume the position officially for approximately six months. During this period, the President of the corporation, whom he greatly admired and to whom he was to report, became ill and announced that he was stepping down. A vice president who was a member of the leadership team accepted the Presidency of another firm. Searches for two management executives were suspended pending the naming of the President’s successor. My friend was dismayed to learn that the organization he was eager to join would change substantially before he got there. He was especially concerned because his boss and some of his future associates were people whom he believed he could trust and work with effectively. His expectations of the trustfulness of the organization he had committed to join were influenced by people who were no longer there. An organization is like a moving train which takes on and drops off passengers at various points en route to its destination. Establishing and reestablishing trust is what passengers do as the train moves from point to point.

Keywords

Marketing Assure Rosen Defend Sonal 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Anonymous author.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    There is an interesting debate on whether organizations should be considered moral persons for the purpose of analyzing their social responsibilities. The moral person approach has been proposed by French, P.A. (1979). The corporation as a moral person.American Philosophical Quarterly 16 207–215 and Ozar, D.T. (1979). The moral responsibility of corporations In T. Donaldson & P.H. Werhane, (Eds.),Ethical issues in business pp. 294–300. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Also see Keeley, M. (1981). Organizations as non-persons.Journal of Value Inquiry 15 149–155.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    One of the issues in ascribing lifecycles to organizations is that, unlike individuals, they may “stay” in a particular stage of a lifecycle for various lengths of time. For example an organization conceivably could “stay” at the midlife stage if it was an organization that changed little and was minimally affected by external change (this would almost have to be a closed system). Depending on the organization one would expect it to move from midlife to maturity, be re-organized, merged, or cease existence. It would be almost impossible to exist in one stage indefinitely.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    As quoted in Rosen, R.H. & Berger, L. (1991).The healthy companyp. 21. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.Google Scholar
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    Ouchi, W.G.Theory Zp. 67.Google Scholar
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    Rosen & BergerIbidp. 32.Google Scholar
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    Dauten, D. (2001) Wisest bosses have the smallest key rings. (2001, July 9).Arizona Republicp. D2.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Douglas McGregor coined the Terms Theory X and Y as sets of assumptions we hold about people. Theory X managers hold assumptions that people cannot be fully trusted, need to be checked up on, need motivation, or really don’t like to work that hard. Theory Y managers, on the other hand, assume that most people will exercise self-control, self-initiative, actively seek responsibility, and have untapped capacity for creativity and ingenuity, Maslow, A.H. (1988).Maslow on Managementpp. 69–80.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For a different view See Howard, P., Rainie, L. & Jones, S. (2000). Days and Nights on the inter-net: The impact of a diffusing technologyAmerican Behavioral Scientist 45 (Special Issue), pp. 1–21. These authors found, in data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, that it is no longer sensible to speak of the generic Internet user and that education strongly predicts the kinds of activities people pursue, and allows users to build social capital. Also see Uslaner, E.M. (2000). Trust, civic engagement and the interne. (Paper presented for the Joint Sessions of the European Consortium for Political Research, University of Grenoble, April 6–11.) Uslaner using 1998 survey data from the Pew Center for The People and The Press and a 2000 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found no evidence to claim that people who have stronger social networks in the real world avoid the Web. There is little support that the Net is a haven for people who don’t trust others, nor is there any evidence that people who spend time online are less likely to trust others. Also see Guernsey, L. (2001). Cyberspace isn’t so lonely after all (2001, July 26). New York Timespp. D1–D5.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For another viewpoint that the internet can encourage the resurgence of civic involvement see Note 5, Chapter 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Bruhn
    • 1
  1. 1.New Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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