Types of Trust

There are three types of trust in organizational relationships.

Deterrence-based trust. Perhaps the most fragile of all the types of trust, deterrence-based trust is based on the fear of reprisal if trust is violated. A new employee might extend deterrence- based trust to his or her new manager, understanding that there is limited experience on which to base any other trust. The potentially harmed party must be willing to introduce harm in return if the trust is violated. “I am willing to speak poorly of you if you do the same to me,” is an example of that.

Knowledge-based trust. This trust is the most common, and it’s based on the behavioral predictability that comes from a history of interaction. Even when an individual can predict that another individual will be unpredictable or untrustworthy, knowledge-based trust can still exist. “I know enough to know he won’t show up on time and he won’t bring the pizza,” is what one might say in a knowledge-based trust situation.

Identification-based trust. This is the highest level of trust achieved between two individuals, because it’s an emotional connection between them. This trust is based on a mutual understanding of each other’s intentions and appreciation of the other’s wants and desires. A happily married couple exercises identification-based trust, as well as two people in an organization who have worked together for a long period of time.


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Organizational Behavior by Icfai Business School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.