Dynamics of Organizational Distrust: An Exploratory Study in Workplace Safety

Gümüştaş C., Küskü Akdoğan F.

SAFETY SCIENCE, vol.134, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 134
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ssci.2020.105032
  • Journal Name: SAFETY SCIENCE
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, EMBASE, Environment Index, INSPEC, Metadex, Psycinfo, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts


Although there are numerous studies on how to establish a safety-climate within organizations, knowledge about how distrust, as a distinct factor, develops and can be best managed in the occupational safety context is limited. Instead of taking a normative perspective of how distrust is developed in Individualist-Western cultures, and using it as the center to understand distrust development in collectivist non-Western cultures, this paper takes an exploratory method, which allows participants to identify the content and variety of elements they think significant in distrust development. This study also aims to address how distrust might best be managed by identifying a set of practices. Data from occupational health and safety (OHS) specialists and OHS academicians working in Turkey were collected through open-ended questionnaire forms, and content analysis was performed. While the opposite ends of Ability, Benevolence, and Integrity, respectively Incompetence, Malevolence, and Deceit were found to be essential aspects of organizational (dis)trustworthiness, External factors appeared as a context-specific dimension of distrust. It is found that the absence of hygiene factors and good relations with employees has a noticeable influence on distrust formation. Drawing on this evidence and the data collected, distrust overcoming practices, which are more affective in nature and focus on better material conditions, are offered.