In episode 77, we host Nicole Gillespie, KPMG Cair in Organizational Trust and Professor at the University of Queensland Business School. We delve into academia’s struggle to apply research practically due to journal priorities. Nicole calls for equilibrium, endorsing interdisciplinary studies and industry partnerships. She notes differing university attitudes, from valuing research quality to prioritizing journal rankings. The shift towards impactful research is promising, but she’s concerned about restrictive journal lists in some US business schools, hampering cumulative social science progress.
Restoring trust in organizations is tougher than in personal relationships due to complex stakeholder needs and diverse post-breach perceptions. Various stakeholders with distinct interests demand different repair actions. Unclear responsibility and external factors complicate organizational trust repair, as seen in cases like BP’s oil spill. Attribution of responsibility varies due to group dynamics and social media, leading to differing violation assessments. Repairing trust can clash between external and internal stakeholders, as seen in case studies. Similar principles apply, like symbolic acts for emotional resolution, but organizations have unique options like firing responsible parties.
Vulnerability is a key aspect of trust, defined as the willingness to be exposed to another’s actions based on positive expectations. Trust is most relevant in uncertain situations, where we willingly rely on and share with others. Paradoxically, high trust often reduces our subjective sense of vulnerability, but we remain objectively vulnerable to those we trust most. Recent research reviews show that vulnerability is inherent to humans and organizations. While often seen negatively, vulnerability also has positive aspects: fostering connections, aiding innovation, resilience, compassion, and a willingness to help and protect others.
Nicole has written commissioned research reports and case studies on building and repairing stakeholder trust for the UK Institute of Business Ethics, the World Economic Forum, and a policy note for the UK Parliament on restoring trust in the financial sector after the global financial crisis. Her most recent reports in collaboration with KPMG are Trustworthy by Design: A practical guide to organisational trust ; Trust in Artificial Intelligence: A five country study and Achieving Trustworthy AI: A model for trustworthy artificial intelligence. Her research and consulting have led to positive changes in industry, government, and policy across a range of sectors, including Health, Resources, Finance and Banking, Higher Education, R&D, Not-for-Profit, and the Defence industry. Clients include KPMG, the World Economic Forum, the Ontario Hospital Association, Barclays Bank, UBS Bank, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, CSIRO, The Australian Army, Bank of Queensland, Santos, Origin Energy and various government agencies. She has attracted over $ 10 million in research funding as a Chief Investigator with her colleagues, including ARC, NHMRC, and industry grants. Nicole is an active member of the Academy of Management, the European Group of Organisational Studies, and he First International Network on Trust and sits on multiple industry and scholarly Advisory Boards.
Quote on restoring trust in organizations
“I would say that restoring trust in organizations is typically more difficult than repairing trust in interpersonal relationships. It’s not always the case, but typically it holds. And why is that? Well, after an organizational trust violation, there’s a really complex and diverse set of stakeholders that the organization needs to repair trust with, and those stakeholders often have different interests, expectations, different vulnerabilities, and they also often perceive and make sense of the violation in different ways. So, for example, think about vulnerable customers who have been affected by a data breach. Now they’re likely to see the situation differently to, say, shareholders of that organization who may have an interest in maximizing their returns. So different stakeholder vulnerabilities can lead to different expectations of what they want the organization to do to repair trust and organizational trust repair can also be more difficult because it’s often unclear in the immediate aftermath of some sort of a violation or scandal who or what is responsible for the violation.”