Trust Repair

Posted: 10 Apr 2017

See all articles by Roy J. Lewicki

Roy J. Lewicki

Ohio State University (OSU) - Human Resource Research

Chad Brinsfield

University of St. Thomas

Date Written: March 2017


Trust is critical for building and maintaining relationships and for effectively working together. When trust is broken, it has serious consequences for both individuals and organizations. In this review we examine the research on how to repair broken trust. We begin by defining trust, how it is broken, how the actor's violation is attributed, and what it means to repair it. We then discuss two dominant trust repair strategies: short-term and long-term. Short-term strategies include verbal statements such as excuses, apologies, and denials, and compensatory arrangements such as repayment for a loss. Longer-term strategies include structural rearrangements of the relationship (e.g., contracts, monitoring), reframing the violation (e.g., attempts to shift blame, mitigate perceptions of harm), granting forgiveness, and remaining silent. Lastly, we discuss concerns for the future of trust research such as construct clarity, measurement, and contextual considerations.

Suggested Citation

Lewicki, Roy J. and Brinsfield, Chad, Trust Repair (March 2017). Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 287-313, 2017, Available at SSRN: or

Roy J. Lewicki (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Human Resource Research ( email )

700 Fisher Hall
2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1144
United States
614-292-0258 (Phone)
614-488-0546 (Fax)

Chad Brinsfield

University of St. Thomas ( email )

2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
United States

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