Topic: Employee Trust and Leadership Communications

Author(s), Title and Publication

Chua, R. Y. J., Ingram, P., & Morris, M. W. (2008). From the head and the heart: Locating cognition-and affect-based trust in managers’ professional networks. Academy of Management Journal, 51(3), 436-452.


This article investigated when a manager trusts his or her professional network members because of need of work (cognition-based trust) or friendship (affect-based trust), and whether the two types of trust influence the manager’s relationship with a certain member in the network when other members in that network have positive or negative ties with the member.

A total of 101 managers from an executive MBA program completed a survey. They were asked to list up to 24 significant persons in their professional networks. They were also asked to provide details on their relationships with each person listed, for example 1) types of trust, the extent to which they could rely on the person to complete a task (cognition-based trust), or their level of comfort in sharing personal problems, difficulties, hopes, and dreams with the person (affect-based trust); 2) types of network ties, whether they received friendship or social enjoyment, information or advice on work, economic aid, or career guidance from the person; and 3) relationships between network members, for example, whether the persons listed know each other, and if yes, whether they have good (e.g., high level of friendship) or bad relationships (e.g., dislike each other). The survey also measured the managers’ network size, the number of years that they had known the persons listed, how often they talked to each person listed, whether the persons listed have a higher, the same, or lower rank than the managers, and the managers’ job fields.

Results demonstrated that types of trust differed according to different types of network ties, For example, the managers trusted those with whom they were friends, and from whom they received career guidance as friends. They also trusted those who gave them task advice and economic aid for work, though they had loose emotional ties with those who gave them economic aid. In addition, this study found that good relations between a person and others in a manager’s professional network increased the manager’s trust in the person as a friend, but not trust in the person on the job. Poor relations between a person and others affected a manager’s trust in the person at work, but not trust in the person as a friend.

Implications for Practice

Managers may use the findings of the study 1) to identify whether the trust in their networks is friendship-based or work-based according to their relationships with others, and foster missing trust (if there is any) by improving relationships with certain members; and 2) to identify types of trust between other people in their workplace.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (full-article) (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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