Talking about the boss: Effects of generalized and interpersonal trust on workplace gossip

Lea Ellwardt*, Rafael Wittek, Rudi Wielers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
151 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study developed and tested a relational theory of positive and negative gossip about managers. It is argued that spreading information about managers depends on trust in organizations, more specifically the employees' generalized and interpersonal trust in managers and colleagues. Hypotheses were tested by conducting two studies in a medium-sized Dutch child care organization, namely, an employee survey (N = 132) and a network study at two sites (N = 58). Multiple regressions and cross-sectional social network analysis (exponential random graph modeling [ERGM]) revealed that negative gossip about managers increases when employees have low trust, nonfriendly relationships, and infrequent contact with the managers. This effect is further enhanced when contacts between employees are trusting and frequent. Implications for theories about management and organizations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-549
Number of pages29
JournalGroup & Organization Management
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2012

Keywords

  • organizations
  • gossip
  • trust
  • relationships
  • social network analysis
  • P-ASTERISK MODELS
  • EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS
  • ORGANIZATIONS
  • TRUSTWORTHINESS
  • EXCHANGE
  • CONTRACT
  • WORK
  • NEWS

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