Trust and Workplace Relations

About the Group

The Trust and Workplace Relations Group considers the critical impact of trust at an individual, team, organisational, and societal level. Our work is driven by a desire to provide excellent theoretical and empirical work with impact. The key research question for our group is: Does trust matter? Our interests coalesce around four main elements which make trust a salient concern:

Trust and HR in high stake contexts: Trust is signalled through systems. The ways in which policies and procedures are selected and then implemented makes good leadership and governance key factors. Similarly, efficient performance and teamwork cannot be achieved without reciprocal trust. Ultimately, no relationship can be maintained in the absence of trust but, it can be a challenge to build, retain, and even more difficult to repair. We analyse the dynamics and different levels of trust within teams, departments and across organisations to understand how systems and control processes can enhance the creation and longevity of trust for a variety of stakeholders.

Trust and shared values: The affective side of trust is a key, but often neglected element in relationships between: organisational members, leaders and followers; organisations; networks; or communities. Our research highlights the specific roles that shared values, understanding and emotions can play when individuals are working together. Shared values may reduce conflicts, enhance compliant behaviour, reduce feelings of vulnerability; they facilitate the development of trust, and involve the uncovering of specific challenges such as working together with people of different ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, or generations.

Expectations and vulnerability: These components are the basis of trust. We trust when we have positive expectations towards someone or something and make ourselves vulnerable. We are therefore interested in understanding the minutia of trust and distrust, in order to reveal their dynamics and associated challenges.

Using trust for productive relationships in workplaces and organisations: We want to show communities, organisations and wider society why trust matters. Thus we are concerned with the applied side of our research. We work closely with a variety of organisations and political actors to help people understand how trust matters, and what they can do to overcome trust issues, such as broken trust or distrust. From our work, we contend that control enhances trust, and is important in relationships between individuals and organisations. We have derived a number of useful business and policy results that identify how to overcome trust issues by providing a framework of control and regulation that enables flexibility and autonomy.

How can we help you?

  • Evidence Summaries: brief and focused summaries of evidence in response to specific information requests about trust.
  • Policy briefings/reports: up to date comprehensive and concise policy briefings for business managers and policymakers; focused on practical implications.
  • Analysis: we can undertake bespoke study and provide comprehensive analysis of primary and secondary data from your organisation with qualitative (NVivo, MaxQDA) or quantitative (SPSS, MPlus, Partial Least Square (PLS), Advanced meta-analysis) approaches.
  • Evaluations: what is your trust level? Where can you improve trust in your organisation and how can you do this? We offer realistic and practical solutions based on our specialist toolkits.
  • Training: we offer trainings for building trust in your organisation and engaging employees. Our team bring both academic and professional experience to deliver best practice support.
  • Research collaboration: we work with academics and professional bodies across the globe. We can offer access to this network of expertise for academic or business needs.

Meet the Team

Ann-Marie Nienber

Ann-Marie Nienaber, Professor (Research Group Leader)

Business management, trust and ethical, performance management

Charis Rice

Charis Rice, Research Fellow

Organisational trust, strategic communication, public relations, political and government communication


Feature Project:

Distrust in entrepreneurial networks: Design of Toolkits of Trust Building Mechanisms to Support Collaborative Innovation across High-Tech SMEs based in Technoparks - a comparative study

The Newton Institutional Link project between Coventry and METU (Turkey) Technology parks, funded by the British Council (NILCAT/BC) focuses on Turkish high-tech entrepreneurs with higher value added and internationalization prospects. We aim to develop toolkits for technology park managers, entrepreneurs, governmental agencies, and universities in building collaborative relationships for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) survival. Building on successful UK models such as Coventry University, larger Turkish technology parks can be reinforced as role models that will be replicated across Turkey. More information

Supporting Urban Integrated Transport Systems: Transferable tools for authorities

SUITS is a sociotechnical designed intervention programme to build capacity in 9 European Local Authorities and transport stakeholder organisations with special emphasis to enhance the transfer of learning to smaller sized cities...


Prospect Trust Audits

Trust is an important organisational resource, enhancing commitment, identification and citizenship. Distrust, in contrast, increases turnover and can escalate counterproductive behaviours including sabotage, theft and bullying

Distrust in entrepreneurial network

Design of Toolkits of Trust Building Mechanisms to Support Collaborative Innovation across High-Tech SMEs based in Technoparks - a comparative study

Democratic responsibility in a divided society: exploring public trust in post-conflict Northern Ireland

Trust in democratic institutions is vital within post-conflict societies like Northern Ireland in reducing division and sustaining peace...

News / Events

International Conference Attendance: Trust Team attend FINT

The Trust Group will visit Dublin in November to contribute to the First International Network on Trust (FINT). The theme of the conference, “Reaching Out”, is about challenging the trust research community to stretch their thinking and influence, to encourage wider participation in the community from practitioners and academics.

Newton Institutional Links

EVENT: Newton Institutional Links: Workshop 2

19th December. 09:00 - 17:00

The second workshop of the project ‘Distrust in entrepreneurial networks: Design of Toolkits of Trust Building Mechanisms to Support Collaborative Innovation across High-Tech SMEs based in Technoparks.