Friday, May 29, 2009

HBR on Rebuilding Trust

Some of you may recall some earlier blog-entries of mine on the topic of trust:
As it turns out, the current issue of Harvard Business Review is on the theme of Rebuilding Trust (follow the hyperlink for executive summaries). The article "Trust Revisited" has a roundup of the other articles in the issue that deal with trust:

The public’s trust in business leaders has never been weaker. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, released in January, trust in U.S. business dropped from 58% to 38% in one year. European businesses are in nearly as much trouble with the public. Businesses in emerging markets are faring better—but not by a lot.

If companies can’t address this problem, an economic turnaround may be delayed indefinitely: Banks won’t lend money; innovation will slow to a crawl; trade across borders will fall even more rapidly; governments will overregulate the private sector; unemployment numbers will continue to rise; and consumers won’t open their wallets for anything they consider nonessential. A complex modern economy simply can’t function unless people believe that its institutions are fundamentally sound.

The articles' executive summaries are:
  • Rod Kramer, in “Rethinking Trust,” argues that most of us trust others far too easily. While the pundits claim that businesses need to rebuild consumers’ trust as soon as possible, Kramer argues that we need to remain skeptical.

  • Joel Podolny’s piece “The Buck Stops (and Starts) at Business School,” indicts the schools that train managers and executives and shares his thoughts about how to reinvent business education—and thereby regain people’s trust.

  • James O’Toole and Warren Bennis argue passionately that senior managers must build a culture of transparency to repair that problem. “What’s Needed Next: A Culture of Candor” makes the case that trust within organizations is the bedrock for rebuilding it in business as a whole.

  • In “How to Be a Good Boss in a Bad Economy” Bob Sutton and another Stanford professor take a different perspective on the destructive dynamic of senior management behavior during tough economic times — and describes a better one.
There is also an article from the previous month's issue about "When Contracts Destroy Trust."

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