Yeshi Deuss-Ngingthatshang

Project responsible

Investigating Interorganizational Distrust Formation

Interorganizational distrust results in numerous negative consequences for the involved parties, such as reduced stakeholder contributions to value creation, reputation and performance losses, and even the termination of the cooperation. Once distrust takes root in a relationship, reversing its effects becomes challenging, as distrust hinders positive interactions and prevents conscious acknowledgments of such. Yet, despite its significance, organizational and management theory currently lacks comprehensive insights into how distrust develops in interorganizational relationships.

As a part of the SNF-funded project on "stakeholder distrust" [details see below category "completed research projects"], this research project is dedicated to exploring the process of distrust formation. We firmly believe that understanding this aspect is crucial for devising effective interventions that can prevent or mitigate its emergence. To achieve our research goal, we followed a two-step procedure:

Initially, we conducted a thorough literature review to consolidate existing knowledge on interorganizational distrust formation. The review revealed two crucial aspects: (a) The formation process of distrust may include a critical tipping point, the identification of which could be key to implementing preventive measures. (b) Sensemaking processes within and across organizations seem to play a vital role in the emergence of distrust.

In the subsequent phase, we employed an embedded case design to delve deeper into the process of distrust formation. This involved gathering rich qualitative data from two key sources:

(a) A focal organization - a multinational entity renowned for its complex stakeholder relationships in sustainability.

(b) Ten stakeholder organizations actively involved in sustainability matters.

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the relationships, we conducted interviews with both the focal organization and the stakeholders, thereby shedding light on the relationship dynamics from both sides of the dyad. Additionally, we employed triangulation, combining interview data with observations from the interview and an extensive analysis of relevant documents. This approach allowed us to gain valuable insights from various perspectives and enrich our investigation.

Our research project serves a dual purpose: contributing to the theoretical understanding of distrust emergence while developing practical measures to prevent or mitigate interorganizational distrust. We are excited to share our results with you in the near future.

If you are interested in our project or the findings, please contact Mrs.Yeshi Deuss per E-Mail or by phone.