by Bruce Vlk
What do business leaders know about building public trust in
their companies? What don't they know and how might that be
important for their particular businesses? Past surveys by Gallop
indicate that low public trust in business is an enduring
phenomenon, but the underlying causes are not always clear.
Public trust in business is one of the most important but least
understood issues for business leaders, public officials, employees
and other key stakeholders. A new book, edited by University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professors Jared D. Harris, Brian T. Moriarty and Andrew C. Wicks, seeks to close the knowledge gap in our
understanding of how public trust in business works. Public Trust in Business (Cambridge University
Press, July 2014) draws on the expertise of an international array
of experts from academic disciplines including business, sociology,
political science and philosophy. Each chapter begins with an
executive summary that identifies key lessons for managers seeking
to build and maintain public trust in their companies.
Why should business leaders worry about declining public trust
in business? According to Wicks, Moriarty and Harris in the opening
chapter, "public displeasure may result in increased government
regulation, a decline in customer confidence and corresponding
sales, or even a 'brain drain' of more top college graduates
choosing a future outside the corporate world." Additionally, they
cite reputational damage and negative media coverage as major
consequences of low trust in business.
"Research on trust has gained traction in the past decade and
has become a vibrant part of the academic discourse. Yet, despite
this interest, scholars have somehow managed to largely overlook
the topic of public trust in business. Given the stakes involved,
and the consequences for trusting either too much or too little,
this omission is surprising. This book gives practicing managers as
well as scholars a much clearer picture of what is at stake," said
Wicks, who also serves as director of Darden's Olsson Center for Applied Ethics. Darden's Olsson Center serves
as a critical resource for executives, scholars, students and
Darden alumni who are faced with the challenges of integrating
ethical thinking into business decision-making.
Published by Cambridge University Press, the book identifies new
ways of advancing trust, by carefully blending the latest academic
research with conclusions for future research and practice. They
address core drivers of public trust, how to manage it effectively,
the consequences of low public trust, and how best to address trust
challenges and repair trust when it has been lost.
Harris, Moriarty and Wicks contribute chapters to the book, as
well as Darden Professor Bidhan L. Parmar. The book includes contributions from renowned
scholars Eric M. Uslaner, Deepak Malhotra, Robert Bies, Kirsten
Martin, Michael Pirson, Karen S. Cook, Oliver Schilke, Roderick
Kramer, Paul Argenti, Reinhard Bachmann, Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger,
Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis, Bart Nooteboom, Gjalt de Jong, Laura
Poppo and Donald J. Schepker.
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the
world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive
Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case
study method, top-ranked faculty whose research advances global
managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit
learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders
who are ready to make an impact.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia
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