EDUS: 660 #6 Trust–sucking gravel for the organization

I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!
I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!

This week’s “Food for Thought”

What does trust mean to you? Explain your concept of trust and then try to operationalize it in some way that would allow it to be measured. What types of questions might you ask?

“Being thrown under the bus” is a phrase voiced by employees who seem to be disgruntled.  Consider those individuals who were former employees of the Enron corporation. Not only did they lose their jobs, but their financial investments as well.  Grammarist contends that the idiom, “Being thrown under the bus” is widely overused by the media.  I hear it expressed frequently by individuals who either find their trust to be broken or who are hurt deeply by an organization that they have trusted. To those individuals who placed their faith and trust in this corporation, the emotions experienced when the corporation and their investments collapsed may have felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal.

David Williams takes a light-hearted view of what happens when one’s trust in a coworker or organization dissolves. His article “How to Survive Getting Thrown

Under the Bus at Work” is full of analogies.  The reader to led to believe that simply shrugging off such situations is the  responsibility of the individual who has been hurt.  One of his lines, “…sucking gravel for the organization” enraged me.   Individuals who have placed an extraordinary amount of trust in an organization suffer the disheartening blow of being betrayed. Now they are being admonished in a national business periodical to shoulder the responsibility for being an effective member of the organization themselves.

Babbie reminds me that social scientists prefer to consider one of the pillars of research to be measurement (124). When considering the idea of trust for observation, or measurement, my observations must be deliberate and careful.  Observations of trust need to emanate from the real world.

So what causes an individual to find themselves in such a situation? Does it happen overnight or does the corroding of trust happen over a period of time?  What happens when one’s trust in an organization is betrayed?

I can joke about this now, however, I've been thrown under the bus several times.
I can joke about this now, however, I’ve been thrown under the bus several times.

A logical progression for measurement includes four components, Conceptualization, Nominal definition, operational definition and measurement in the real world.

So moving the bus forward:

Conceptualization:  What does trust mean? Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as the belief that someone or something is reliable good, honest, effective.(

Nominal Definition: For my study, I would find Webster’s definition suitable for individual trust.  When considering trust within an organization, I would state that the “something” was a specific organization. The organization would define what trust means in a specific setting.

Operational Definition: I would measure individual levels of trust by posing survey questions that would ask create a trust inventory using a Likert Scale  for questions such as the following;

Trust of Individuals-

  • The individual(s) in my department are competent in the necessary skills for his or her job.
  • My supervisor makes decisions about his or her job that are thoughtful.
  • My supervisor makes decisions that impact those in the department with thought and consideration.
  • The individual(s) in my charge will follow through on assignments.
  • I can rely on what my coworkers tell me as factual.

Trust in an Organization-

  • I feel confident that this organization will treat me with respect.
  • The supervisor and co-workers in my department trust each other.
  • I can depend on the management of this organization to make solid business decisions.

Measurements in the Real World-

In an interview setting, I would ask individuals an established set of questions about their experiences with individuals in an organization and the organization itself.

Kramer and Tyler (1996:303) add an additional component to the layers of trust between individuals.  Taking advantage of one’s coworkers, even when the opportunity is available, can constitute a breach of trust. Trust is socially embedded, subjective and optimistic.  The health and well-being of an organization is found in the level of trust between and among its individual workers.

Since the concept of “Ethics” is still fresh on our minds-

Trust Building Cartoon

Something to chew on-

If you have a moment, read the article from the Forbes Magazine.  Which operations would you focus on if considering a research project about trust and organizations?  What is the level of trust like in your place of employment?  Does the HR department provide instruction that helps individuals to understand the organization’s stance on trust?  Is trust understood in the way in which Kramer and Tyler define it? How does trust occur between individuals in your organization?


Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

Cummings, L. L., & Bromiley, P. (1996). The organizational trust inventory (OTI). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research, 302, 330.

Kramer, R. M., & Tyler, T. R. (Eds.). (1995). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. Sage Publications.