Class III: Institutional and organizational trust during crises

Provided by Guido Möllering, Witten/Herdecke University

Guiding questions: How can trust be preserved during crises – and help to cope with them?



Core readings

Gustafsson, S., Gillespie, N., Searle, R., Hope Hailey, V., & Dietz, G., (2021). Preserving organizational trust during disruption. Organization Studies, 42(9), 1409-1433. PDF

Möllering, G. (2013). Process views of trusting and crises. In: Bachmann, R., & Zaheer, A. (Eds.): Handbook of Advances in Trust Research. Edward Elgar, 285-305. SSRN version

Contemporary news article

Mak, T. (2022) How Ukraine’s businesses and citizens are pitching in to help in the war effort, National Public Radio (USA), March 4, 2022.

Post-lecture assignment

The software development company Sombra is one of countless firms in Ukraine that have to respond to the war. Please check out their website and LinkedIn profile. Imagine that you are Anna Fedorus, Sombra’s Vice President of Human Resources. Your CEO, Viktor Chekh, has asked you to prepare the following for the next top management meeting:

a)    An outline (i.e. list of main topics) of a confidential questionnaire for employees on how their trust in Sombra has developed since the beginning of the war.

b)    A draft text for a motivational email (around 500 words) from Sombra’s leadership to their employees in order to foster the preservation of trust within the company.

For task a) try to use the five process views presented by Möllering (2013) and for task b) write the text in line with Gustafsson et al.’s (2021) three trust preservation practices.     

Background readings

Mishra, A. (1996). Organizational responses to crisis: The centrality of trust. In: Kramer, R.M., & Tyler, T.R. (Eds.): Trust in Organisations: Frontiers of Theory and Research. Sage Publications, 261-287. Preprint 

Möllering, G., & Stache, F. (2010). Trust development in German–Ukrainian business relationships: Dealing with cultural differences in an uncertain institutional context. In: Saunders, M.N.K., Skinner, D., Gillespie, N., Dietz, G., & Lewicki, R.J. (Eds.): Organizational Trust: A Cultural Perspective. Cambridge University Press, 205-226. MPIfG DP Version