Volume 1, Issue 1
 
|
|
|
|
|
|
 
 

The Effects of Supervisors' Trust of Subordinates and their Organization on Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment

Kristin L. Straiter

 

 
 

This study investigated the effects of supervisors' trust of their subordinates and their organization on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Using survey data collected from 117 district sales managers in one large pharmaceutical company, the study found a significant relationship between supervisors' trust of their subordinates and supervisors' job satisfaction. Further, supervisors' trust of the organization was found to have a greater effect on job satisfaction than that of supervisors' trust of their subordinates.

 

Previous studies (Blau, 1964; Butler & Cantrell, 1984; Deutsch, 1958; C. L. Scott, 1980) examined the trust relationship between supervisors and subordinates from the standpoint of the subordinate. These studies failed to investigate trust from the perspective of the supervisor. The purpose of this study was to investigate how supervisors' trust of their subordinates and their organization affect job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment. The study examined this question in a sample of 117 district sales managers within a pharmaceutical company.

Background

In order to increase trust within today's organizations, it is critical to understand the dual nature of trust that includes personal and systems trust. In other words, interpersonal and systems trust do not stand alone, but act in concert with one another. Personal and systems trust was first introduced by Luhmann (1979) who posited, “Trust occurs within a framework of interaction which is influenced by both personality and social system, and cannot be exclusively associated with either” (p. 6). Luhmann (1979) argued that personal trust and systems trust rest on different bases. Personal trust involves an emotional bond between individuals, and the emotional pain that each would experience in the event of betrayal serves as the protective base of trust, even where other types of short-term gains could be realized by breaking the trust. This emotional content is largely absent in systems trust. Systems trust rests on what Luhmann (as cited in Lewis & Weigert, 1985) called a “presentational” base (p. 974). That is, systems trust is activated by the appearance that “everything seems in proper order” (Lewis & Weigert, 1985, p. 974).

Within organizations, interpersonal trust between supervisors and subordinates has been shown to significantly influence perceptions of accurate performance appraisals (Fulk, Brief, & Barr, 1985); performance and productivity (Argyris, 1964; Earley, 1986; Moore, Shaffer, Pollak, & Taylor-Lemcke, 1987; Savage, 1982); and organizational commitment, morale, turnover, absenteeism, and cost in untapped potential (Diffie-Couch, 1984). In addition, interpersonal trust between supervisors and subordinates improves the quality of communication (Muchinsky, 1977; Roberts & O'Reilly, 1974; Yeager, 1978), citizenship behavior (McAllister, 1995), and problem solving and decision making (Barnes, 1981; Boss, 1978; Hollon & Gemmill, 1977; Hurst, 1984; Ouchi, 1981; K. D. Scott, 1983; Zand, 1972). Trust among top managers may also be necessary for delegation of decision making to take place (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). Systems trust is a “collective attribute” based upon the relationships between people that exist in a social system (i.e., organization) (Luhmann, 1979, p. 968). Systems or organizational trust's primary effect is the reduction of social complexity and the increased tolerability of uncertainty in external relationships. Within organizations, trust contributes to more effective implementation of strategy, greater managerial coordination (McAllister, 1995), and more effective work teams (Doney, Cannon, & Mullen, 1998; Lawler, 1992).

Theoretical Development and Hypotheses

First, a supervisor's trust of his or her subordinates may reflect the supervisor's knowledge that these subordinates are competent, reliable, and responsible in carrying out their assignments (Butler, 1991; Gabarro, 1987; McGregor, 1967). Prior research supported this argument. Specifically, Ouchi (1981) affirmed that trust between individuals involves expectations of consistent or reliable behavior. Rotter (1971) defined trust as an “expectancy held by an individual or group that the work, promise, or written statement of another individual or group can be relied upon” (p. 444). Golembiewski and McConkie (1975) have expanded on the topic of trust and confidence by writing that it “implies reliance on, or confidence in, some event, process, or person” (p. 133). Gabarro (1987) defined trust in terms of consistency of behavior and posited that “judgments about trust in working relationships become specific based on accumulation of interactions, specific incidents, problems, and events” (p. 104). Griffin (1967) defined trust as “the reliance upon the characteristics of an object, or the occurrence of an event, or the behavior of a person in order to achieve a desired but uncertain objective in a risky situation” (p. 105). Rempel, Holmes, and Zanna (1985) found that trust develops from interpersonal relationships between supervisors and subordinates based on the mutual degree of reliability, confidence, and security.

Similarly, McAllister (1995) suggested that the complexity and uncertainty inherent in managerial work often require trust in order to achieve coordinated action. Schindler and Thomas (1993) found that trust is based on evaluations of integrity, competence, commitment to one another, consistency, and openness regardless of whether the relationship is between oneself and a supervisor, a subordinate, or a peer. Thus, trust is based on perceptions of prior performance or reputation.

Subsequently, subordinates who are more competent, reliable, and responsible will most likely work together to increase performance of the work unit. This leads to a greater probability that the supervisor's work unit will perform better and be more effective (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998). Having trusted subordinates may lead to better performance reviews and rewards for the supervisors (Gambetta, 1988; Pennings & Woiceshyn, 1987; Seabright, Leventhal, & Fichman, 1992). Better performance and rewards are linked to higher levels of job satisfaction of the supervisor (Barnes, 1981; Friedlander, 1970; Gabarro, 1987; Leana, 1986).

Moreover, supervisors who trust their subordinates and have a good relationship with them are able to spend more time on their own development rather than having to directly oversee their subordinates on a continuous basis (Bradach & Eccles, 1989; Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995). Crockett, Gaetner, and Dufur (as cited in Gomez & Rosen, 2001) concurred by adding that trust is the basis for effective delegation, two-level communication, giving and receiving feedback, and a sense of team spirit. The delegation and relinquishing of various responsibilities to subordinates improves the quality of the supervisor's job because it enables the supervisor to have higher job visibility which leads to promotional opportunities. Further, the subordinates' ability to be effective, reliable, and consistent leads to a high performance work team that helps the supervisor achieve his or her goals. This ultimately leads to higher overall job satisfaction.

Additionally, if a supervisor trusts subordinates more and believes that his or her subordinates treat the supervisor fairly (Bromiley & Cummings, 1993; McGregor, 1967), the supervisor has a more positive affect on his or her subordinates. In fact, researchers defined trust as the expectation that an exchange partner will not engage in opportunistic behavior despite short-term incentives and uncertainty about long-term rewards (Bradach & Eccles, 1989). However, greater trust in another party, in terms of concern, goes beyond believing that the party will not be opportunistic. For example, Carnevale and Wechsler (1992) found that trust “involves faith or confidence in the intentions or actions of a person or a group, the expectation of ethical, fair, and non-threatening behavior, and concerns for the rights of others” (p. 473). Further, Barber (1983) and Ouchi (1981) posited that one party will refrain from taking unfair advantage of another party and will be concerned about the party's interests or the interests of the whole.

Finally, in addition to being treated fairly, supervisors who feel this sense of affect of their subordinates ultimately feel more positive about their personal relationships at work and have a greater overall job satisfaction for supervisors.

Hypothesis 1. Interpersonal trust of subordinates is positively related to a supervisor's job satisfaction.

Supervisors' Organizational Trust and Affective Organizational Commitment

A series of factors helped build an argument for the positive relationship between supervisors' trust of the organization and supervisors' affective organizational commitment. A supervisor's level of trust of the organization may reflect his or her understanding of what the organization practices and represents. Then, if the supervisor believes that the organization will do the right thing for its employees, the supervisor will have a greater sense of belonging and membership within the organization (Porter, Steers, Mowday, & Boulian, 1974). Supporting this argument, Luhmann (1979) contended that trust allows organizational members to reduce the complexity of organizational life in productive ways. Further, Kallenberg and Berg (1987), Oliver (1990), and Steers (1977) asserted that the affective dimension of organizational commitment reflects the nature and quality of the linkage between an employee and an organization. Ultimately, the supervisor will gain an increased level of affective commitment of the organization.

In addition, if a supervisor trusts the organization, then he or she has a feeling of job importance, that is, the job is critical to organizational success. If the supervisor is treated like an asset, then he or she will have less anxiety, a greater sense of belonging, and a positive affect on the organization. This bond leads to greater affective organizational commitment (Martin & Bennett, 1996). For instance, Buchanan (1974) argued that if individuals' positions are seen as being crucial to the functioning of an organization, the position will heighten their self-esteem and image of the organization, positively influencing affective organizational commitment.

Hypothesis 2. Trust of the organization is positively related to a supervisor's affective organizational commitment.

Method

Sample

The sample consisted of 117 district sales managers at one New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company. These district managers, located across the United States and having identical job descriptions, were chosen from this single, large pharmaceutical company in order to provide homogeneity and limit variances. The district managers each supervise 6-14 sales representatives. The representatives sell their pharmaceutical drugs to physicians and hospitals within their geographical territories. The district manager's job is to make sure the representatives are well prepared to sell the products to the customer. Each district manager is measured by the same criteria and paid quarterly bonuses based on his or her final divisional ranking.

Procedure

The surveys were sent to approximately 200 district sales managers in the field with a 59% response rate (117 responses). A reminder email was not sent due to the initial high response rate and the intervention of the company's human resources department that resulted in a cease of all activity. This was done after 48 hours of the survey being launched. At this point in time, all 117 responses had already been received. This did not impact the data-collection process or the validity of the data since the data was collected in the survey database to secure anonymity.

A key informant from the company's human resource office noted that about 50% of the district managers have held this position for approximately 5 years and that about 40% of district managers have been in their positions for greater than 5 years. In the study sample, 18% of district managers have been with the company for 7 to 10 years, and 30% of district managers have been with the company for more than 11 years. In addition, 44% of district managers in the sample have been with the company for 4 to 6 years. These data suggest that the sample does not differ significantly from those in the sampling frame. Table 1 provides the sampling frame in terms of supervisors' tenure at the company and the number of subordinates the supervisors manage.

Table 1
Supervisors' Tenure at Company and Number of Subordinates they Manage

Demographics

Number

Percent

Supervisors' Tenure (in years)

 

 

1-3

10

 

8

 

4-6

51

 

44

 

7-10

21

 

18

 

11+

35

 

30

 

Number of Subordinates they Manage

 

 

6

1

 

1

 

7

5

 

4

 

8

4

 

3

 

9

5

 

4

 

10

46

 

39

 

11

18

 

15

 

12

31

 

26

 

13

5

 

4

 

14

1

 

1

 

75

1

 

1

 

Measures

To date, a limited number of instruments have been used to study the psychometric properties of trust. Rotter (1967) developed a personal trust scale (ITS) based on the definition of trust as the “expectancy held by an individual or group that the word, promise, verbal or written statement of another individual or group can be relied upon” (p. 651). These definitions are limited in scope, failing to address the relationship of trust with risk-taking and failing to allow for the varying perceptions of trust based on structural relationships within the organization.

Bromiley and Cummings (1993) developed a short and long version of their Organizational Trust Inventory (OTI) that measures the level of trust between units in organizations or between organizations. Although the authors' instrument was shown to be reliable and properly validated, it measures the overall feeling of trust of a group within an organization only. Consequently, the overall feeling of trust of a group of people could be skewed if one person within that group has an overwhelming positive or negative impact on the respondent.

Cook and Wall (1980) developed a 12-item classification scale to be applied in a work setting to differentiate trust as two dimensional: (a) faith in the intentions of peers and management and (b) confidence in their respective actions. However, the results of the factor analysis in their study showed that trust is not differentiated by the constructs of faith or confidence, but that “the principal distinction within the trust scale between peers and management is functionally important; indeed they may be considered as separate measures” (Cook & Wall, 1980, p. 47). Other instruments reviewed by the authors failed to report sufficient psychometric property and validity testing data (Hart, Capps, Cangemi, & Caillouet, 1986; Larzelere & Huston, 1980). Therefore, this study further tested the OTI by reciprocating the subordinate-supervisor relationship by analyzing the effects of supervisor's trust of their subordinates and the organization.

The study employed measures of interpersonal (trust of subordinates) and organizational trust developed by Nyhan and Marlowe (1997). In their study, Nyhan and Marlowe obtained Cronbach's alpha (reliability estimate) for their OTI of .96 (for both types of trust). As stated previously, Nyhan and Marlowe (1997) originally developed their scale to measure trust of supervisors and trust of the organization. In this study, a modified version of their instrument was used to measure trust of a supervisor's subordinates. In this study, the reliability of trust of subordinates was measured to be .92 and trust of organization was .79. In addition, Cronbach's alpha for the overall OTI scale measured to be .89 for both types of trust.

Global job satisfaction. This study employed a scale for Global Job Satisfaction developed by Warr, Cook, and Wall (as cited in Fields, 2002). This scale uses 15 items with a 7-point scale to describe overall job satisfaction. The measure has two subscales assessing satisfaction with extrinsic (8 items) and intrinsic (7 items) aspects of a job (Cordery, Sevastos, Mueller, & Parker, 1993, and Wright & Cordery, 1999, as cited in Fields, 2002). In prior studies, coefficient alpha values for the composite measure of overall job satisfaction ranged from .80 to .91 (Fields, 2002). In this study, the reliability of the Global Job Satisfaction scale was .92.

Affective organizational commitment. Affective Organizational Commitment, developed by Meyer and Allen (1997), was used in this study. In prior studies, internal consistency estimates ranged from .77 to .88 (Allen & Meyer, 1990). In the sample for this study, Cronbach's alpha for this measure was .82. The variable was measured with a 7-point scale.

Since personality affectivity (a person's tendency to view things positively or negatively) may affect levels of job satisfaction, positive affectivity and negative affectivity were controlled in the analysis. Since tenure might affect levels of a supervisor's organizational commitment independent of trust, it also was controlled. Positive and negative affects were measured using the positive and negative affectivity scale (PANAS) (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). Tenure was measured as years of service as a district manager.

Reliability analyses of the two dependent measures (job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment), the independent measures (trust of subordinates and trust of organization both use a 7-point scale), and the control measure (personality – positive affect and negative affect use 5-point scales) are shown in Table 2.

Results

Means, standard deviations, and medians for the two dependent measures (job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment), the independent measures (trust of subordinates and trust of organization), and the control measures (positive affect, negative affect, and tenure) are presented in Table 3. Table 4 provides correlations among these variables.

Table 2
Reliability Results for Measures of the Dependent, Independent, and Control Variables

Measure of Variables
a, Cronbach's Alpha
Job Satisfaction
.92
Affective Organizational Commitment
.82
Trust of Subordinates
.92
Trust of Organization
.79
Trust Scale
.89
Personality
.88

Table 3
Means, Standard Deviations, and Medians for Variables

Variables

M

SD

Mdn

Dependent Variables

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

4.81

.93

5.00

Affective Organizational Commitment

5.10

.90

5.00

Independent Variables

 

 

 

Trust of Subordinates

5.28

.68

5.13

Trust of Organization

5.01

.95

5.00

Control Variables

 

 

 

Personality (Positive Affect)

3.81

.68

3.90

Personality (Negative Affect)

2.36

1.05

2.10

Table 4
Correlations among the Study Variables

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1. Job Satisfaction

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Organizational Commitment (affective)

.39*

-

 

 

 

 

 

3. Trust of Subordinates

.22**

.25*

-

 

 

 

 

4. Trust of Organization

.66*

.62*

.47*

-

 

 

 

5. Positive Affect (PA)

.50*

.31*

.27*

.48*

-

 

 

6. Negative Affect (NA)

-.10

-.42*

-.07

-.20**

-.19**

-

 

7. Tenure

-.19**

-.03

-.09

-.26*

.12

.18**

-

*p < .05. **p <.01.              

As expected, there was a significant positive correlation between the two dependent variables: job satisfaction and affective organization commitment (r = .39, p < .01). As expected, negative affectivity is negatively correlated with trust of organization (r = -.20, p < .05) and with positive affectivity (r = -.19, p < .05).

Surprisingly, a supervisors' tenure at the company was positively correlated with negative affectivity (r = .18, p < .05). Also, supervisors' tenure was negatively correlated with job satisfaction (r = -.19, p < .05) and with trust of the organization (r = -.26, p < .01). Because tenure was correlated with negative affectivity and was negatively correlated with job satisfaction, this may indicate that many employees not only have negative attitudes, but choose to stay with the organization out of obligation or for reasons other than trust, job satisfaction, and/or affective organizational commitment. They may choose to be miserable in the workplace, but might also perceive this same organization as offering them a more stable and secure place of employment rather than venturing out into what they perceive as a more unreliable environment.

Test of Research Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1. Interpersonal trust of subordinates is positively related to a supervisor's job satisfaction.

A hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to test this hypothesis, controlling for the possible effects of supervisors' personality (positive and negative affectivity) and the supervisors' tenure at the company. Table 5 presents the results. In the first step of this regression, the R2 due to the entry of trust of subordinates was .05 (p < .05) and was statistically significant, lending support for this hypothesis. However, when trust of organization was entered, the coefficient of trust of subordinates ceased to be significant. The coefficient of trust of subordinates remained insignificant after the addition of the control variables to the regression in the third model. The addition of trust of the organization to the regression had a significant effect (ΔR2 = .40, p < .01) on the regression model. Similarly, the addition of the control variables in the third model had a significant effect (ΔR2 = .05, p < .05) on the fit of the regression model. The coefficient of positive affectivity was significant in the third model.

Table 5
Regression Model Predicting Job Satisfaction (N = 117)

Variable

B

SE B

b

Step 1

 

 

 

Trust of Subordinates

0.30

.13

 

.22*

Step 2

 

 

 

Trust of Subordinates

-0.17

.11

 

-.12

Trust of Organization

0.70

.08

 

.71**

Step 3

 

 

 

Trust of Subordinates

-0.19

.11

 

-.14

Trust of Organization

0.60

.09

 

.60**

Positive Affect

0.35

.11

 

.26**

Negative Affect

0.06

.06

 

.06

Tenure

-0.03

.07

 

-.03

Note. R2 = .05 for Step 1 (p < .05); ΔR2 = .40 for Step 2 (p< .01); ΔR2= .05 for Step 3 (p< .05).
*p < .05. **p < .01.

Hypothesis 2. The trust of the organization is positively related to a supervisor's affective commitment.

A hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to test this hypothesis, controlling for the possible effects of supervisors' personality (positive and negative affectivity) and the supervisors' tenure at the company. Table 6 presents the results. In the first step of this regression, the R2, due to the entry of trust of organization, was .39 (p < .01) and was statistically significant, lending support for this hypothesis. When trust of subordinates was entered, the coefficient of trust of organization remained significant (b = .65, p < .01), while trust of subordinates was not (b = -.05, p = .53). In the third model, the addition of the control variables caused a significant change in the model fit (ΔR2 = .12, p < .01) but did not substantially alter the regression coefficient for trust of organization (b = .64, p < .01). The coefficients of negative affectivity and tenure were significant in the third model.

Table 6
Regression Model Predicting Organizational Commitment (N = 117)

Variable

B

SE B

b

Step 1

 

 

 

Trust of Organization

0.82

.10

 

.06**

Step 2

 

 

 

Trust of Organization

0.85

.11

 

.65**

Trust of Subordinates

-0.10

.15

 

-.05

Step 3

 

 

 

Trust of Organization

0.84

.11

 

.64**

Trust of Subordinates

-0.09

.14

 

-.05

Positive Affect

-0.04

.14

 

-.02

Negative Affect

-0.40

.08

 

-.34**

Tenure

0.24

.09

 

.19**

Note. R2 = .39 for Step 1 (p < .01); ΔR2 = .00 for Step 2 (p s > .05); ΔR2 = .12 for Step 3 (p s < .001).
*p < .05. **p < .01.

Discussion 

The results of the study supported the hypothesized relationship between supervisors' trust of their subordinates and their job satisfaction. Because there are few studies detailing supervisors' trust of their subordinates and how it affects their job satisfaction, this study adds to our understanding of supervisor-subordinate relationships. Previous studies have found that job satisfaction of supervisors suffered when reciprocal trust was lower between a supervisor and selected subordinates. This study investigated the supervisor's trust based on judgments about all of the supervisor's subordinates. This finding suggests that if a supervisor can depend on his or her subordinates as being reliable and competent, the supervisor's time is freed up, and he or she is able to do his or her own job well. Since most of the district managers in this study have 10 or more subordinates, trust of subordinates to work independently may lead to higher supervisory job satisfaction.

In testing Hypothesis 1, the effect of adding trust of the organization to the regression, predicting job satisfaction was significant and diminished the relationship between trust of subordinates and job satisfaction. Prior research (Driscoll, 1978; Liou, 1995) found that both interpersonal trust (subordinates' trust of their supervisors) and organizational trust led to job satisfaction. In this study, the organization being studied was unique due to the fact that it was part of a much larger corporation that is known for taking care of its employees. The larger company has staying power due to the fact that it has been in business for over 100 years and combines over 200 health care companies. This decentralized corporation provides its employees unlimited opportunities, so employees are able to transition from position to position based on their developmental needs and the needs of the various companies within the larger corporation. This sense of stability and growth may help develop trust if the organization is a more important determinant of supervisors' job satisfaction than trust of subordinates.

Positive affectivity was also significantly related to job satisfaction. This is similar to results in other samples (Simmons, Nelson, & Neal, 2001; Witt, Andrews, & Kacmar, 2000). Although negatively correlated in Table 4, tenure did not have a significant relationship with job satisfaction in the multivariate analysis, possibly because tenure and negative affectivity were significantly related. In other words, because tenure and negative affectivity shared a correlation in the regression, the effect of tenure may have been minimized.

The results of the study supported the hypothesized relationship between supervisors' trust of their organization and their affective organizational commitment. Entry of trust of subordinates did not affect this relationship. This indicates that the relationship between trust of the organization and affective organizational commitment is stronger than that of trust of the subordinates and affective organizational commitment.

In the third model, the addition of the control variables caused a significant change in the model fit but did not substantially alter the regression coefficient for trust of organization. The coefficients of negative affectivity and tenure were significantly related to affective organizational commitment in the third model. The significant relationship of negative affectivity, which is comprised of descriptors such as distress, upset, hostile, afraid, and irritable, may indicate that these supervisors are under a lot of pressure to get their jobs done. In addition, the positive relationship found in this study between tenure and affective organizational commitment is consistent with research (Dunham, Grube, & Castaneda, 1994; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). This finding may indicate that it is easier for the district managers to trust their organization versus their subordinates which will lead to greater affective organizational commitment because they want to stay with this organization longer due to the amount of stability, security, and growth opportunities it offers its employees.

Strengths and Limitations of Study

This study revealed several strengths worth mentioning. First, this study confined itself to a district sales manager's group from one pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey. This ensured that there was no variance in job description and organizational culture. Second, the study used a web-based survey. Using a web-based survey not only ensured accuracy (subjects had to fill in bubbles in each section to advance the page), but also expedited the collection process and ensured anonymity. Due to the fact that the company president himself emailed the respondents the letter that contained the web-based survey via an internal company distribution list, it was highly unlikely that the responses were returned from anyone other than the employees on the distribution list. This ensured authenticity of results. Also, because the surveys were returned so quickly and the timeframe was not held open for the usual period of time (i.e., 10 days to 2 weeks) this ensured accuracy of results (respondents unlikely responding more than once). In addition, because the surveys were requested by the company president, this was another reason for the respondents to comply. There were also limitations to the study. This research may have limited external validity because all survey participants were in the sales division of one pharmaceutical company. In addition, although the response rate was sufficient (59%), the initial sample size was not exceptionally large. Thus, this potentially limited the results of the research.

Implications for Organizational Leaders

This study is significant for organizational leaders who are working toward building a competitive and successful company. Cook and Wall (1980) asserted that trust between individuals and groups within an organization is a highly important element in the long-term stability of the organization and the well-being of its members. Thus, understanding the relationship between supervisors' trust of subordinates and supervisors' trust of the organization will help organizations understand what motivates their supervisors to work hard, achieve goals, and be loyal to the organization.

In order to increase organizational trust within today's organizations, it is critical to understand what trust means for supervisors, human resources professionals, organizational development professionals, and employees in general. Therefore, organizations need to monitor trust levels, especially during times of rapid change. The OTI (Nyhan & Marlow, 1997) has proven to be a psychometrically-sound instrument to provide measurement.

This study focused on supervisors' trust of their subordinates and of the organization and how this affects their job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment. Results showed that supervisors' trust of their subordinates and the organization proved to be important in both supervisors' job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment. However, supervisors' trust of the organization had a stronger relationship to job satisfaction and organizational commitment than that of trust of subordinates, thus, the implications for leaders in sales organizations is that they should focus in this area.

This study found interesting results for organizational leaders relating to the effects of organizational trust versus interpersonal trust on job satisfaction in a competitive sales environment. The study revealed negative effects of trust of subordinates when trust of the organization was entered in the regression. This may be due to the competitive nature of the sales setting where the sales representatives may be competing not only for their own positions but for their supervisors' positions. District managers may put more trust in their organization than in their subordinates because they feel they cannot fully trust their subordinates who are competing with them. Sales organizations should implement leadership development programs to specifically address this competitive dynamic.

Also, in this study, there was an unusual negative relationship of tenure with organizational trust and job satisfaction. This may indicate that although employees decide to stay with the organization, they have a more difficult time trusting the organization because they work remotely in the home office and, therefore, are distanced from interactions with other employees and upper management. Due to this distance, they may have a more difficult time finding additional job opportunities within the larger organization, which would increase their level of uncertainty in job security and limit their ability to achieve job satisfaction. Further, negative affectivity was found to be significant in relation to affective organizational commitment. This relationship may indicate that district managers are under a lot of pressure while they are doing their jobs, yet they still are committed to the organization because they believe in it. Organizational leaders need to determine if employees are achieving job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment and are truly adding value to the organization. Organizations need to examine why people stay at organizations when they are not happy and are not achieving optimal job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment. If the situation is not optimal, then organizational leaders must relocate, help, or, in some cases, dismiss employees to optimize their development and level of contentment which will add to the company's profitability.

Suggestions for Future Research

Future research should explore interpersonal and organizational trust and job satisfaction and organizational commitment in other divisions of other organizations in alternate industries to confirm that these findings are generalizable across all areas of business.

Second, researchers should study normative commitment to determine if it relates as strongly to supervisors' trust of their subordinates and to their organization as does affective commitment. It would be worthwhile to study (a) top management and their subordinates and (b) the same subordinates and their direct reports to determine if correlations exist between the two groups. Finally, another important area to study involves expanding our understanding of the dynamics of trust among peers and the organization as a whole. This is another under-examined group in organizations.


About the Author

Dr. Kristin L. Straiter earned her Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Regent University. She holds a B.S. in biology with a concentration in biotechnology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and holds an M.S. in biotechnology management from University of Maryland University College. Dr. Straiter currently works in the biopharmaceutical industry and her research interests include organizational trust, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction.

Email: kstraiter@comcast.net


References

Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1-18.

Argyris, C. (1964). Integrating the individual and the organization. New York: John Wiley.

Barber, B. (1983). The logic and limits of trust. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Barnes, L. B. (1981). Managing the paradox of trust. Harvard Business Review, 59, 107-116.

Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: John Wiley.

Boss, R. W. (1978). Trust and managerial problem solving revisited. Group and Organizational Studies, 3, 330-341.

Bradach, J. L., & Eccles, R. G. (1989). Price, authority, and trust: From ideal types to plural forms. Annual Review of Sociology, 15 , 97-118.

Bromiley, P., & Cummings, L. L. (1993). Organizations with trust: Theory and measurement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Paper presented at the 53rd annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Atlanta, GA.

Buchanan, B. (1974). Building organizational commitment: The socialization of managers in work organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 19, 533-546.

Butler , J. K., Jr. (1991). Toward understanding and measuring conditions of trust: Evolution of a conditions of trust inventory. Journal of Management, 17(3), 643-663.

Butler , J. K., Jr., & Cantrell, S. R. (1984). A behavioral decision theory approach to modeling dyadic trust in superiors and subordinates. Psychological Reports, 55, 19-28.

Carnevale, D. G., & Wechsler, B. (1992). Trust in the public sector. Administration and Society, 12, 471-494.

Cook, J., & Wall, T. (1980). New work attitude measures of trust, organizational commitment and personal need non-fulfillment. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 53, 39-52.

Deutsch, M. (1958). Trust and suspicion. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2, 265-279.

Diffie-Couch, P. (1984). Building a feeling of trust in the company. Supervisory Management, 29, 31-36.

Doney, P. M., Cannon, J. P., & Mullen, M. R. (1998). Understanding the influence of national culture on the development of trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 601-621.

Driscoll, J. W. (1978). Trust and participation in organizational decision making as predictors of satisfaction. Academy of Management Journal, 21, 44-56.

Dunham, R. B., Grube, J. A., & Castaneda, M. B. (1994). Organizational Commitment: The utility of an integrative definition. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(3), 370-380.

Earley, P. C. (1986). Trust, perceived importance of praise and criticism, and work performance: An examination of feedback in the United States and England. Journal of Management, 12, 457-473.

Fields, D. (2002). Taking the measure of work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Friedlander, F. (1970). The primacy of trust as a facilitator of further group accomplishment. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 6 , 387-401.

Fulk, J., Brief, A. P., & Barr, S. H. (1985). Trust-in-supervisor and perceived fairness and accuracy of performance evaluations. Journal of Business Research, 13, 301-313.

Gabarro, J. (1987). The dynamics of taking charge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Gambetta, D. (1988). Can we trust trust? In D. Gambetta (Ed.), Trust: Making and breaking cooperative relations (pp. 213-237). Oxford , UK: Basil Blackwell.

Golembiewski, R., & McConkie, M. (1975). The centrality of trust in group processes. In C. L. Cooper (Ed.), Theories of group processes (pp. 131-185). New York: John Wiley.

Gomez, C., & Rosen, B. (2001). The leader-member exchange as a link between managerial trust and employee empowerment. Group & Organization Management, 26(1), 53-69.

Griffin, K. (1967). The contribution of studies of source credibility to a theory of interpersonal trust in the communication process. Psychological Bulletin, 68, 104-120.

Hart, K. M., Capps, H. R., Cangemi, J., & Caillouet, L. M. (1986). Exploring organizational trust and its multiple dimensions: A case study at General Motors.

Hollon, C. J., & Gemmill, G. R. (1977). Interpersonal trust and personal effectiveness in the work environment. Psychological Reports, 40, 454.

Hurst, D. K. (1984). Of boxes, bubbles, and effective management. Harvard Business Review, 62, 78-88.

Kallenberg, A., & Berg, I. (1987). Work and industry: Structures, markets and processes. New York: Academic Press.

Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Larzelere, R. J., & Huston, T. L. (1980). The dyadic trust scale: Toward understanding interpersonal trust in close relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 595-604.

Lawler, E. (1992). The ultimate advantage: Creating the high-involvement organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Leana, C. R. (1986). Predictors and consequences of delegation. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 754-774.

Lewis, D. J., & Weigert, A. (1985). Trust as a social reality. Social Forces, 64, 967-985.

Liou, K. (1995). Understanding employee commitment in the public organization: A study of the juvenile detention center. International Journal of Public Administration, 18(8), 1269-1295.

Luhmann, N. (1979). Trust and power. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Martin, C. L., & Bennett, N. (1996). The role of justice judgments in explaining the relationship between job satisfaction and organization commitment. Group & Organizational Management, 2(1), 84-105.

Mathieu, J. E., & Zajac, D. M. (1990). A review of the meta-analysis of the antecedents, correlates, and consequences of organizational commitment. Psychological Bulletin, 108(2), 171-194.

Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20, 709-734.

McAllister, D. J. (1995). Affect- and cognition-based trust as foundations for interpersonal cooperation in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 24-59.

McGregor, D. (1967). The professional manager. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Meyer, J. P., & Allen, N. J. (1997). Commitment in the workplace: Theory, research, and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Moore , S. F., Shaffer, L. S., Pollak, E. L., & Taylor-Lemcke, P. (1987). The effects of interpersonal trust and prior commons problem experience on commons management. Journal of Social Psychology, 127, 19-29.

Muchinsky, P. M. (1977). An intraorganizational analysis of the Roberts and O'Reilly organizational communication questionnaire. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 184-188.

Nyhan, R. C., & Marlowe, H. A., Jr. (1997). Development and psychometric properties of the organizational trust inventory. Evaluation Review, 21(5), 614-635.

Oliver, N. (1990). Rewards, investments, alternatives and organizational commitment: Empirical evidence and theoretical development. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 19-31.

Ouchi, W. G. (1981). Theory Z: How American business can meet the Japanese challenge. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Pennings, J. M., & Woiceshyn, J. (1987). A typology of organizational control and its metaphors. In S. B. Bacharach & S. M. Mitchell (Eds.), Research in the sociology of organizations (pp. 75-104). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Porter, L. W., Steers, R. M., Mowday, R. T., & Boulian, P. V. (1974). Organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover among psychiatric technicians. Journal of Applied Psychology, 55, 63-69.

Rempel, J. K., Holmes, J. G., & Zanna, M. P. (1985). Trust in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 95-112.

Roberts, K. H., & O'Reilly, C. A., III. (1974). Failures in upward communication in organizations: Three possible culprits. Academy of Management Journal, 17(2), 205-215.

Rotter, J. B. (1967). A new scale for the measurement of interpersonal trust. Journal of Personality, 35(4), 651-665.

Rotter, J. B. (1971). Generalized expectancies for interpersonal trust. American Psychologist, 35, 1-7.

Rousseau, D. M., Sitkin, S. B., Burt, R. S., & Camerer, C. (1998). Not so different after all: A cross-discipline view of trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 393-404.

Savage, D. (1982). Trust as a productivity management tool. Training and Development Journal, 36(2), 54-57.

Schindler, P. L., & Thomas, C. (1993). The structure of interpersonal trust in the workplace. Psychological Reports, 73(2), 563-574.

Scott, C. L. (1980). Interpersonal trust: A comparison of attitudinal and situational factors. Human Relations, 33, 805-812.

Scott, K. D. (1983). Trust differences between men and women in superior-subordinate relationships. Group & Organization Studies, 8(3), 319-336.

Seabright, M. A., Leventhal, D. A., & Fichman, M. (1992). Role of individual attachments in the dissolution of interorganizational relationships. Academy of Management Journal, 35, 122-160.

Simmons, B. L., Nelson, D. L., & Neal, J. (2001). A comparison of the positive and negative work attitudes of home health care and hospital nurses. Health Care Management Review, 26(3), 63-74.

Steers, R. M. (1977). Antecedents and outcomes of organizational commitment. Administrative Science Quarterly, 22, 46-56.

Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measure of positive and negative affect the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54 (6), 1063-1070.

Witt, L. A., Andrews, M. C., & Kacmar, K. M. (2000). The role of participation in decision-making in the organizational politics-job satisfaction relationship. Human Relations, 53(3), 341-353.

Yeager, S. J. (1978). Measurement of independent variables which affect communication: A replication of Roberts and O'Reilly. Psychological Reports, 43, 1319-1324.

Zand, D. (1972). Trust and managerial problem solving. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17, 229-239.

 
 


International Journal of Leadership Studies
An online refereed journal sponsored by
Regent University, School of Business & Leadership
1333 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
Phone: 757-352-4550; Email: ijls@regent.edu