Jingjing Ma, John M. Schaubroeck, and Catherine LeBlanc
Interpersonal trust refers to confidence in another person (or between two persons) and a willingness to be vulnerable to him or her (or to each other). In contemporary organizational science, research conducted within organizations has extensively investigated personal, dyadic, and contextual factors that motivate interpersonal trust (i.e., trust between two persons) and the consequence of interpersonal trust for the trustor and the trustee. This line of work distinguishes between two orientations that researchers have taken when conceptualizing interpersonal trust: unidirectional trust and bidirectional trust. Unidirectional trust refers to a focus on one person’s trust in another without regard to the reciprocation of that trust. Unidirectional trust research investigates trust in another party at a higher hierarchy level (e.g., followers’ trust in the leader), a lower hierarchy level (e.g., the leader’s trust in followers), or at the same hierarchy level (e.g., employees’ trust in coworkers). Bidirectional trust focuses on the shared trust in a dyad. Research on bidirectional trust helps to provide insights about the complex pattern and evolution of interpersonal trust over time. However, research investigating bidirectional trust is relatively limited compared to unidirectional trust. Besides research on interpersonal trust within the same work unit, there is also a recent trend toward investigating interpersonal trust across work unit and organizational boundaries. Another important line of literature regarding interpersonal trust is the investigation of the causes and consequences of interpersonal trust violations and the effectiveness of remedies (e.g., apologies) for these violations.