Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Role Of Trust In High Reliability Organizing: The Moderating Affect Of Organizational Trust In Temporary, Inter-Agency Group Dynamics
by Matiella, Mary Sally, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2011, 206; 3449249
Abstract (Summary)

In the aftermath of disasters, thousands of lives are saved because of the reliable performance of temporary, inter-agency groups. Many studies have addressed the practices of reliable, temporary, inter-agency groups, e.g., high reliability organizing (HRO); however, few have addressed the role of behavior. The theoretical constructs of high reliability organizing (HRO) and trust are studied in this dissertation to gain insight into the role of behavior in the reliable performance of temporary, inter-agency groups. This dissertation proposes that organizational trust moderates HRO practices, thus, it moderates the reliable performance of temporary, inter-agency groups.

A mixed methodology (surveys and interviews) was used in this study. A sample of wildland firefighters was selected from an advanced incident management course, because attendees of this course had vast experiences in HRO and inter-agency groups. The subjects were highly skilled, all belonged to type1 and 2 incident management teams IMTs. The role of organizational-level trust was studied by capturing trustor-trustee organizational affiliation. Trust surveys provided trust data and demographic data. Interviews provided the reasons behind organizational trust attribution. By using, both, surveys and interviews, a deeper understanding of the attribution of organizational trust was obtained.

The results of four trust surveys indicated that: the trustee's organization was perceived as trustworthy; the level of organizational trust attribution was not related to organizational affiliation; the levels of cognitive-based trust and affective-based trust equalized overtime; females had a high propensity to trust and attributed significantly higher levels of organizational trust; and, an individual's propensity to trust is highly related to their attribution of organizational trust. The interviewees attributed organizational trust based on the perception of competence. This perception of competence was enabled by the uniformity of training, certification, structure, language, etc. within the temporary, inter-agency group. Overall, the subjects perceived the ‘other’ inter-agency group members trustworthy, because their agencies had many uniform practices.

The wildland firefighting community is a tight network, e.g., they have structure, practices and mission in common. Further, the subjects recalled experiences as members of highly skilled and structured IMTs. Future research is needed on the role of organizational trust in ‘loosely coupled’ inter-agency groups--where the represented organizations, groups, or teams do not share common structure, practices, or mission.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burley, Diana
Commitee: Larsen, Robert, Lester, Paul B., Putnam, Jr, Stuart E., Scykkt-Russ, Ellen
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Occupational psychology, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Group dynamics, High-reliability organizing, Interagency dynamics, Organizational trust
Publication Number: 3449249
ISBN: 9781124559926
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