In the interview, Antoinette Weibel, Professor for Human Resources Management at the University of St. Gallen and director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research discusses the evolving role of HR, emphasizing the importance of trust in employer-employee relationships. She highlights the shift in HR from an employee champion role to a strategic business partner, focusing on strategic HR practices like performance management to enhance organizational profit. This shift, however, has led to HR becoming one of the least trusted functions in companies, as identified by the Edelman Trust Barometer. Weibel points out the need for HR practices that genuinely support employees and foster trust, especially in light of the great resignation and conscious quitting trends, which stem from issues of distrust in employment relationships.
Trust and Control
Antoinette also talks about the relationship between trust and control, suggesting that both are necessary for solid cooperation. She explores how certain types of controls, when applied correctly, can enhance trust. She differentiates between enabling controls, which are practical and participative, and coercive controls, which are more about surveillance and enforcing compliance. She argues that enabling controls, which focus on coordination and cooperation, are more conducive to building trust. The interview also touches on the concept of bureaucracy and procedural controls, which, when enabling and helpful, can positively affect trust between parties.
Antoinette addresses the topic of bureaucracy by cautioning against the indiscriminate criticism of it. She acknowledges that while some management philosophies advocate for eliminating bureaucracy, it’s not a straightforward issue. Weibel suggests that certain aspects of bureaucracy and control structures are essential for maintaining the social fabric of organizations. She emphasizes that when laws and controls are designed to promote fairness, they can enhance trust and reliability by providing a clear framework and clarifying expectations. Thus, Weibel argues for a more nuanced understanding of bureaucracy, recognizing its potential positive contributions alongside its challenges.
Antoinette Weibel speaks about the concept of engaged scholarship, stressing the importance of making research more contextual and relevant to practical applications, especially in the trust field. She advocates for a collaborative approach to defining research questions, ensuring that academic investigations are directly applicable and beneficial in real-world settings. Weibel expresses a preference for working alongside practice, embodying the essence of engaged scholarship by involving practitioners in the research process from the outset. While she acknowledges the potential positive impact of small consultants in helping organizations transform, she expresses skepticism towards larger consulting firms, citing concerns about the potential for trust to be manipulated or abused. She emphasizes the need for authenticity in the use of trust in both research and consulting, advocating for partnerships with consultants who share a commitment to genuine practice. Her work, including a paper titled “Trust the Poisoned Chalice,” highlights the dangers of manipulative trust practices, underscoring the importance of conducting and applying trust research ethically and authentically. Through her collaboration with industry practitioners, such as a former COO of ING, Weibel exemplifies engaged scholarship, striving to bridge the gap between academic research and practical application in a manner that is both ethical and effective.
Publications Antoinette Weibel
Trust motivation: The self-regulatory processes underlying trust decision“Good” and “bad” control in public administration: The impact of performance evaluation systems on employees’ trust in the employer.
for more publications see here
Literature mentioned during the interview
During the interview, Antoinette mentioned the interview with Sim Sitkin, whom we had as our guest earlier (“Trust Dynamics: Competence, Distrust and Generalized Trust“).
Transcript Interview Antoinette Weibel
Interview with subtitles on our YouTube channel
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