Parallel to the very large scholarly interest in trust, scholars in management and related disciplines have made the case for the importance of distrust as a related but distinct construct. This paper critically assesses current literature on distrust in organizational settings. We first take stock of the extant research on organizational distrust and suggest an integrative framework. Second, to underpin research on organizational distrust, we examine the different scholarly perspectives on the conceptual relationship between trust and distrust. In turn, we discuss key issues to position research on trust and distrust. Third, we highlight empirical evidence on the role of distrust as opposed to that of trust. We specifically discuss alternative approaches and implications about how distrust and trust can be empirically distinguished. Fourth, we make suggestions to integrate distrust research into relationship repair literature. Fifth, we summarize our review and point to specific areas for new theoretical and empirical research on distrust, particularly at the organizational level. Finally, we discuss specific empirical challenges in this growing literature. Based on our systematic discussion of the organizational distrust literature, we believe that we have opened up prospective avenues to advance distrust research in strategic management.
Foundations and Trends® in Management: Vol. 1: No. 1, pp 1-88