Trust: how is it built, and
how is it broken?


Emerald and SDGs
We support the Sustainable Development Goals

According to an old Dutch saying, ‘trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback’, suggesting that trust takes time to build but can be very quickly lost.

Once trust is broken, it can be very difficult to repair. Here we look at how vulnerable trust is within organisations and ask:

  • How can trust be built?
  • What mistakes do leaders make to erode trust in their followers?
  • What affects does trust have on employees’ performance?

If you're a researcher or a practitioner looking to publish a paper in this area, you can search our full list of journals by subject area or, better yet, why not get in touch with us using the form at the bottom of this page. We’d love to hear from you about your work.

This mission supports our Responsible management goal

Richard Oloruntoba photo

Trust in leader-follower relationships

Find out everything you need to know about the subject of trust, what the current research covers, and the areas we'd love to see more research from in the future, in this introduction from our goal advisor Dr. Richard Oloruntoba.

Read Richard's introduction

question 1

Does good leadership rely on good followership?

Good followers, those that take direction well and are effective in their roles, are possibly just as important to organisational success as their leaders. Here we’ve chosen some book chapters and articles that look at leadership-followership relationships and the importance of trust.

Book chapters & journal articles

Book chapter

Toxic Followership: Leader Deception and Breach of Trust

Author: Wendy M Edmonds, Bowie State University, MA, USA.

Book: When Leadership Fails: Individual, Group and Organizational Lessons from the Worst Workplace Experiences
Date published: 2021…
Book chapter

I’ll Only Follow if I Trust You: Using Adult Development to Accelerate Trust

Authors: Harriette Thurber Rasmussen (Drexel University, USA), and Mohammed Raei (Consultant)

Book: Maturing Leadership: How Adult Development Impacts Leadership
Date published: 2020…
Journal article

Relating supervisor interpersonal emotion management- and task-oriented leadership to adaptive performance: a moderated-mediation model incorporating trust and gender

Authors: Gary A Adams and Jennica R Webster, Department of Management, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Date published: 2021
Journal article

Reversing the lens: The role of followership dimensions in shaping transformational leadership behaviour; mediating role of trust in leadership

Authors: Sajjad Nawaz Khan et al, University Malaysia Sarawak

Leadership & Organization Development Journal
Date published: 2020
Journal article

Studying trust in the leader by co-produced autoethnography: an organizational esthetics approach

Authors: Päivi Kosonen and Mirjami Ikonen, University of Eastern Finland

Journal of Organizational Ethnography
Date published: 2022
Find a journal for your research

James Kahan photo

Building trust through mutual understanding

In his blog, James Kahan presents his definition of trust, outlines the importance of trust in his recent research on knowledge creation and bounce casting, and in his volunteer efforts within his community.

Read the blog

question 2

How does trust affect organisational performance?

These articles discuss the benefits to organisations when there is trust in leaders.

Journal articles

Find a journal for your research
question 3

How important is trust during a crisis?

Here we’ve chosen some articles, a book chapter, and two expert opinion pieces that discuss the importance of trust during a crisis.

Journal articles, book chapter & expert opinion pieces

European Business Review
Journal article

Organisational justice mechanisms’ mediating leadership style, cognition- and affect-based trust during COVID-19 in South Africa

Authors: Schalk Willem Jacobus Visser and Caren Brenda Scheepers, University of Pretoria, South Africa

European Business Review
Date published: 2022
A group of professionals sat around a table discussing and working on laptops
Opinion piece

Organisational justice mechanisms: one year on

Authors: Schalk Visser and Caren Brenda Scheepers

In times of crises, such as with COVID-19, leaders must clearly communicate what is expected of their employees, by focusing on task orientation.

Group discussion
Opinion piece

"Lean on me." Responsible leadership in the COVID crisis. Has anything changed?

Authors: Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Katie Jacobs and Joe Carter

This piece asks a simple question: has the impact of the COVID pandemic from 2020 – 2022 changed the nature of Responsible Leadership?

International Journal of Manpower
Journal article

Teleworking: role of psychological well-being and technostress in the relationship between trust in management and employee performance

Authors: Akanksha Jaiswal, Santoshi Sengupta, Madhusmita Panda, Lopamudra Hati, Verma Prikshat, Parth Patel and Syed Mohyuddin, Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai, India

International Journal of Manpower
Date published: 2022
Globalization, Political Economy, Business and Society in Pandemic Times
Book chapter

Sweden's Covid-19 Strategy from a Leadership Perspective: Importance of Trust and Role Models

Author: Maria Fors Brandebo, Swedish Defence University

Book: Globalization, Political Economy, Business and Society in Pandemic Times
Series: International Business and Management
Date published: 2021…
Find a journal for your research



Subject pages

Browse our subject pages to find relevant journals and books


Chat to us about your work

We love hearing from researchers and practitioners about their work.

If you would like to contribute to this page, or you are working on research related to trust and responsible management and would like to publish it in a journal, please let us know by filling in this form and we’ll get right back to you.


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