(A)symmetric trust relationships between employer and employee representatives in Europe

Some (not so) known stylized facts

Bernd Brandl, Durham University Business School

Trust between employers and employees and their representatives, i.e. in the employment relationship, is usually seen in literature as beneficial for the efficacy of their interaction. The beneficial role of trust between the employee and employer side on the efficacy of their interaction is rooted in the beneficial role of trust in negotiation and bargaining situations in general. Although literature contains a reasonable amount of theoretical and empirical research on the reasons why trust can be high or low (or somewhere in-between) in different countries and companies relatively few stylized and generalizable facts have emerged because the majority of analyses focused on case (e.g. single company or country) studies. Furthermore, previous literature concentrated on trust from the employee side in the employer side, i.e. on trust in management, but very little research can be found on trust in the other direction, i.e. on trust of the employer side in the employee side. Even more scarce is research in mutual trust. On basis of a unique, large and comprehensive matched employee/employer data set which covers trust relationships at establishment level between the employer side, i.e. the management, and the employee side, i.e. employee representatives, this article not only gives an overview of how trust between the two side differs in different companies in different European countries, but also provides a systematic analysis of the factors which determine trust in the employment relationship.