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Philosophy of Management

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2001

Making Sense

Chris Provis
Pages 31-41

Why Is Trust Important?

There is now a bewildering array of literature about trust, written from a variety of disciplinary orientations. However, much of the literature skirts around the fact that trust is closely tied to some ethical judgements. When we discuss trust and trustworthiness, our language spans the gap between fact and value, and that is sometimes forgotten when emphasis is given to the instrumental benefits of trust and trustworthiness. It is important to remember that sometimes trust is good not as a means to an end, but as something that is intrinsically important. Similarly, trustworthiness is inherently part of being a good human being, and focussing on trustworthiness as a means can impede attaining it either as an end or a means. A 'balanced scorecard' approach to evaluating organisational performance needs to take account of trust and trustworthiness as components of performance, as something of inherent value, not just as means to it. Further, in many contexts the assessments we make in coming to decisions require us to make judgements about trust and trustworthiness as a basic consideration, without coming to prior judgements about distinct factual issues. This emerges in workplace negotiation, when negotiators have to make decisions about how frank and open to be with other parties.

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