Nienaber, A./Romeike, P./ Schewe, G./Searle, R. (2015): What makes the glue sticky? A qualitative meta-analysis of antecedents and consequences of trust in supervisor-subordinate relationships, Journal of Managerial Psychology , 30 (5): 507 – 534.


Purpose – Interpersonal trust is often considered as the “glue” that binds supervisors together with their subordinates, and creates a positive organisational climate. The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors affecting subordinates’ trust to their supervisor, and the consequences of such a trusting relationship.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a qualitative meta-analysis of the trust
literature between 1995 and 2011, to identify 73 articles and review 37 theoretical propositions, 139 significant model parameters and 58 further empirical findings.
Findings – Four distinct clusters of trust antecedents are found: supervisor attributes; subordinate attributes; interpersonal processes and organisational characteristics. Similarly, the authors identify three categories of trust consequences: subordinates’ work behaviour; subordinates’ attitude towards the supervisor; and organisational level effects.
Research limitations/implications – The authors find a bias towards studying supervisor
attributes and interpersonal processes, yet a dearth of attention on subordinate attributes and
organisational characteristics. Similarly, the conceptual attention on trust between supervisors and subordinates has been limited, with empirical work reporting predominantly significant findings. Social exchange has dominated as the theoretical perspective, and cross-section as the main research approach. In order to advance this important field more heterogeneity is needed, utilising a range of different theoretical schools and employing different methodologies.
Originality/value – This seems to be the first qualitative meta-analysis explicitly directed to
understanding trust between supervisors and subordinates. The authors contribute to the field of trust by revealing current gaps in the literature and highlighting potential areas of future research.

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Prof. Dr. Ann-Marie Nienaber
Professor in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behavior

Head of Research Group: Trust and Workplaces

Coventry University, United Kingdom
(Modern University of the Year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations