The Development of Mutual Trust in British Workplaces through 'Partnership'

42 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2003

Date Written: 29 2002, 10


This article examines the alleged links between 'partnership' forms of managing workplace relationships in Britain, and the development of intra-organisational 'trust'. The potential for mutually complementary linkages between the two are clear, in theory at least: partnership, as defined here, should produce, nurture and enhance levels of interpersonal trust inside organisations, while in turn trust, as defined here, legitimates and helps reinforce an organisation's 'partnership'. Qualitative evidence drawn from the self-reports of key participants in four partnership organisations provides considerable support for the claimed linkages, while also highlighting several weaknesses, discrepancies and pitfalls inherent in the process of pursuing trust through partnership. This research is of interest from a public policy perspective, most of all in the United Kingdom, where partnership is the favoured organisational model for the New Labour government, most trade unions, and many employers (not to mention the European Union) yet where an agreed definition of the idea has yet to emerge, and where still remarkably little is known about what partnership involves inside organisations. This analysis also seeks to restore the curiously neglected idea of trust to a position of central importance to the study of employment relations.

Keywords: trust, social partnership, organisational change, United Kingdom, case studies

JEL Classification: M, M10, L2, L29

Suggested Citation

Dietz, Graham, The Development of Mutual Trust in British Workplaces through 'Partnership' (29 2002, 10). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2002-97-ORG, Available at SSRN:

Graham Dietz (Contact Author)

Durham Business School

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

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