AMR Special Topic Forum - Fresh Perspectives on Trust in Today's Changing Theoretical and Contextual Landscapes

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The aim of this issue is to create conceptual frameworks that highlight the key role of trust within and between organizations, and, in light of dramatic internal and external change, re-examine some of the fundamental questions and assumptions addressed in theories of trust.

Fresh Perspectives on Trust in Today's Changing Theoretical and Contextual Landscapes

Submission Deadline Extended: 15 February 2022

Guest Editors: Cecily Cooper, M. Audrey Korsgaard, Kyle Mayer, Laura Poppo, Madan Pillutla, and Aks Zaheer

In 1998, AMR published a special issue devoted to the topic of trust edited by Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, and Camerer. This special issue covered a broad scope of trust-related topics and inspired an enormous amount of subsequent empirical and conceptual work on trust. AMR later published a special issue on the closely related topic of relationship repair (Dirks, Lewicki, & Zaheer, 2009). In the decades that followed, calamitous economic and societal events have taken place, and fundamentally disruptive changes to technology and the economy continue apace. Globally, as individuals grow more pessimistic about their own economic futures, trust in governments and business has eroded (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2020). In addition, the sharp increase in remote work and the gig economy has significantly altered the workplace and the relationship between employees, their co-workers, and leaders while global supply chains and ecommerce require new thinking on trust across organizational boundaries. These events and changes challenge current assumptions regarding trust and demand a re-examination of theory on trust within and between organizations.

At the same time as we experience these societal changes, there have also been changes in the research landscape. New theoretical lenses and concepts have begun to influence our understanding of emotion, identity, decision-making, judgement, perception, and cooperation, all topics closely related to and informative of trust. We believe new theories are needed to both understand the context-specific nuances of trust and refine our theorizing of trust to reflect underlying affective, social, perceptual and judgment processes.

The aim of this issue is to create conceptual frameworks that highlight the key role of trust within and between organizations, and, in light of dramatic internal and external change, re-examine some of the fundamental questions and assumptions addressed in theories of trust. We expect that this special issue will galvanize thinking and empirical research and be as generative as the previous special issues in informing many of the social science disciplines. Given AMR’s current focus on “Diverse Voices and Global Perspectives,” we particularly encourage research that reflects these values. Below we outline an illustrative but not exhaustive list of possible areas that would be a fit for propelling theory forward.

  • Trust Deliberations: A pervasive assumption in models of trust is that the decision to trust is driven by self-interested cost-benefit deliberations. Macro trust research generally sees these deliberations as being based on the structure of the incentives and sanctions for cheating or cooperating (i.e., I trust you because you benefit from doing what I want you to do), emphasizing how trust enables economic exchange, cooperation, and business outcomes. Alternatively, for micro trust research, deliberations generally focus on assessments of trustworthiness (i.e., ability, benevolence, and integrity- I trust you because you have trustworthy characteristics). These divergent assumptions regarding trust deliberations have led to a widening gap in how trust is conceptualized and studied across micro and macro research. We encourage integrative theory that addresses these types of assumptions. Further, research on trust deliberations should look beyond assessments of trustworthiness (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995; Das & Teng, 2001) to focus on the role of less conscious and deliberate social judgements such as heuristics and hybrid forms of judgment that combine calculative and heuristic processes.
  • Context and Trust: Economic and social changes have dramatically altered the way relationships are formed and maintained within and between organizations. The exigencies of remote work, global supply chains, ecommerce, business ecosystems, virtual networks, the gig economy, and automation are examples of these changes. Theory examining how these contextual changes fundamentally alter the meaning and function of trust within and between organizations is needed. A focus on the maintenance of trust between parties during a crisis might also be relevant, as a crisis represents a contextual event that can foreseeably increase or decrease trust mutually or unilaterally. We also encourage scholars to consider processes and attributes embedded in the social context, such as contagion, social identity, culture, and climate. Work that casts a new light on diversity and trust is welcome.
  • Irrational Trust: Theory is needed to better explain instances which appear to defy our common notions of rational trust development and maintenance, as well as the processes which enable cooperation. Trustors are known to trust too little, too much, and too soon and may appear to trust again too quickly or too slowly after trust is violated, patterns which appear contrary to self-interests. These patterns could result from routine-based rather than knowledge-based assessments, pro-relationship motivations, attributions, contracts, or external pressures. These tendencies may leave certain individuals, teams, or organizations more exposed to having their own trust violated or violating the trust of others.
  • Experiencing Vulnerability: The concept of vulnerability is central to the most commonly used definition of trust; however, we know very little about the true nature of vulnerability and how it is experienced by trustors. Theorizing is needed to clarify whether vulnerability is always a precondition of trust, the nature of vulnerability while trusting, and how changes in vulnerability posed by the context can influence how vulnerability is experienced in a specific relationship. Particular focus could be given to the attendant emotions of vulnerability, such as anxiety, fear, and hostility. Notably, various stakeholders of a given trustee may experience different levels of vulnerability (e.g., investors may experience vulnerability differently than consumers, employees, and/or managers). Interesting questions exist regarding whether vulnerability is experienced and managed differently by individuals, teams, and organizations. Given the possibility that different groups vary in how they experience vulnerability , there is surely value in considering how it affects members of underrepresented groups and the impact this has on trust.
  • Embeddedness of Trust: Trust does not occur in a unilateral vacuum. It resides in relationships/partnerships in which both parties are simultaneously trustors and trustees, involving both their trust for the other party and the extent to which the other party trusts them. The burgeoning research on felt trust, mutual trust, and trust meta-perceptions may benefit from further theoretical precision and consideration should be given to expanding these basic ideas across different foci (trust felt from alliance partners, customers) and levels (team or organizational-level). Further, these relationships/partnerships reside within larger networks. In current times, networks of all kinds, particularly virtual ones, abound and proliferate. As a result, trust can be created indirectly, without contact between trustor and trustee. Conceptual thinking that integrates the burgeoning literatures on trust and networks is sorely needed to help understand the roles that networks play in the creation and maintenance of trust as well as its dissolution and repair.


Das, T. K., & Teng, B.S. 2001. Trust, Control, and Risk in Strategic Alliances: An Integrated Framework. Organization Studies, 22: 251-283 Dirks, K. T., Lewicki, R. J., & Zaheer, A. 2009. Repairing relationships within and between organizations: building a conceptual foundation. Academy of Management Review, 34(1): 68-84. Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer Report. (2020). Edelman. 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. 

Timeline and Submission

The deadline for submissions has been extended to 15 February 2022. All submissions must be uploaded to the Manuscript Central/Scholar One website between 1 January 2022 and 15 February 2022. Guidelines for contributors and the AOM Style Guide for Authors must be followed.

For questions about submissions, contact the managing editor via

For questions about the content of this special topic forum, contact Cecily Cooper (, Audrey Korsgaard ( Aks Zaheer (, Laura Poppo (, Madan Pillutla (, or Kyle Mayer (