Cultural Values and the Effectiveness of Trust Repair Strategies in Collaborative Relationships
Interpersonal trust is a positive expectation that an individual has regarding another individual, and such positive expectation leads to behaviors and outcomes desirable for individuals, groups, and organizations. Despite these benefits and positive outcomes of trust, it can be damaged or broken, and to continue the relationship or effectively work together again, individuals must repair the broken trust. Very little research has been conducted on trust violation and repair in the cross-cultural context, and as more organizations and businesses become global, the influence of culture must be considered in developing and maintaining trusting relationships as well as repairing broken trust between individuals from different cultures. Therefore, the current study seeks to help close this gap in understanding the topic as individuals differ in how they perceive and respond to trust violation depending on their cultural backgrounds. Specifically, the current study hypothesized that the effectiveness of trust repair effort would depend on individuals’ cultural values and examined four repair strategies (account, apology, penance, and demonstration of concerns) and how they would be most or least effective depending on cultural values. By using archival data, the current study quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed the interview data where participants shared their experiences of trust development, violation, and repair in the classroom or job setting. Results showed that penance was most frequently used alone or together with other repair strategies, and penance and demonstration of concerns were found to be more effective than account and apology across most cultural values examined in the current study. Other effective repair strategies not specified in the current study included the passage of time and the cross-over between professional and personal lives where the friendship helped buffer against the negative consequences of the violation and rebuild the trust. Theoretical implications of the conceptualization of trust repair and practical suggestions on what individuals can do to repair the broken trust are also discussed.