Sunday, February 21, 2010


Interpersonal trust can be used to monitor, measure, and ultimately influence personal Web usage in an organizational environment. The link between trust and Web use exists through the degree to which an individual trusts the organization in which she is employed. The use of the Internet for personal activities can and will manifest through trust behavior. Trust is a metric for measuring Internet usage and serves as a proxy for functional or dysfunctional use. Functional Web behavior can be defined as the degree of Internet use to conduct personal business during work hours that conforms to and follows organizational policy. Personal Web use is presently controlled through organizational rules, regulations, policy, and actions. In an organizational context, policy is established, worker behavior is observed, and subsequent transgressions are addressed.
Dysfunctional behavior constitutes a misappropriation of organizational time and resources that would not otherwise be sanctioned by co-workers or supervisors. Through measuring interpersonal trust and through the development of increased levels of trust, dysfunctional Web use can be discouraged.
The development of trust is examined as an alternative strategy to increase appropriate personal Web use behavior.
In a trust-rich organizational culture, daily employee Internet activities would occur in accordance with established written protocols so that Internet access and usage is appropriate in all transactions. The organization and its leaders would maintain a fundamental respect for employees as well as each other. Internal business interactions between employees would be conducted consciously and consistently in all activities. The need for overt control mechanisms to monitor employee behavior diminishes. Employees are treated as vested partners, and enlightened leadership exists through examples of
trustworthy behavior by all levels of management. Work environments where trust can be explicated and discussed are valued. The maintenance of an employee’s trustworthy reputation internally and externally is sought. The acceptance of different erspectives and an environment where feedback occurs is encouraged.
These notions represent a difference in perspective, an acceptance of the importance of trust, and a commitment to work directly and indirectly toward developing and maintaining a climate of trust. The consequence of this perspective is that the organization can ultimately be observed, measured, and described as having a ‘trust culture.’
Building a trust culture is not easy, and creating cultural change is a long and arduous course of action. The process by which an organization develops and sustains an atmosphere of trust begins with taking the risk that employees are trustworthy. This becomes a starting organizational precept that is tested over time. What this means is that organizational leaders begin from a belief position that trustworthy behavior is the norm in the company, and set an example through their own trustworthy action. There is an implicit expectation that trust will exist in all interactions and that individuals who work for the company will act in a trustworthy manner.
The organization openly communicates about the nature of trust and this fundamental originating belief. In fact, creating and sustaining a culture of organizational trust becomes an overall long-term goal. Trust is explicitly addressed in the corporate values, the overall mission statement, and in specific employee functions. A measure of trust is created for annual performance reviews. Trust testing is done passively as individuals interact with one another.
Trust breach assessments are limited to the specific incident and the corresponding effect and response remain isolated rather than generalized beyond the situation. Periodic assessments of the perception of trust in the corporate environment are undertaken. Understanding the importance of trust, what constitutes trust, and how to build and develop trust provides a basis for enhancing organizational interactions and engenders a process for individual development.

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