A model for trust

One of the key things to build an effective organization is building trust among members of the organization. People can only cooperate and collaborate together effectively when they trust each other. However, it is not always easy for managers to understand or to predict whether trust between two certain people can be achieved or not. Fortunately, there is a model for trust, developed by Hurley (2006), which can help to predict whether an individual will decide to trust or distrust another in a given situation. The purpose of this post is to present that model for trust theoretically. More practical discussion about how to build trust will be discussed in later posts.


According to Hurley (2006), there are 10 factors that can help to predict whether trust between two parties can be achieved or not. The first 3 factors are related to the one who decide whether to trust or not (who is called the “truster”) and the other 7 factors concern about the situation and the relationship between the two parties. Here are Hurley’s factors:
  • Risk tolerance: The more risk tolerant a person is, the more likely he trusts others. In other words, it is easier for risk takers to trust others.
  • Level of adjustment: People who are more well-adjusted trust others more quickly than people who are poorly-adjusted.
  • Relative power: If the truster has more power than the trustee, he is more likely to trust because he can punish the trustee in case his trust is violated.
  • Security: If the consequence of the violation of trust is not very scary to the truster, it is easier for him to trust.
  • Number of similarities: The more similarities that people have together, the more likely they can trust the others.
  • Alignment of interests: People whose interests are aligned are more likely to achieve trust. On the contrary, people with conflict of interests are less likely to trust the others.
  • Benevolent concern: People who demonstrate benevolent concern, who can sacrifice their benefits or put themselves at risk for the others, are more likely to gain trust from the others.
  • Capability: People only trust those who are capable to fulfill the expectation of the trust. This factor is even more important than similarities, aligned interest or benevolent concern. You can not trust a person if he does not have the capability, no matter how many similarities, aligned interests and benevolent concern that he has.
  • Predictability and integrity: A trustee whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy. In other words, people who “walk the talk” are more likely to be trusted.
  • Level of communication: The more effective the communication between the two parties is, the more likely that trust can be achieved. In my opinion, effective communication should be the first factor to be considered when trying to build up trust.

The following picture summarize Hurley’s model for trust:

Model for trust

More practical suggestions for building trust among team members will be discuss in later post.

Hurley, A.F., 2006. The Decision to Trust. Harvard Business Review, September 2006, pp.55-62

2 thoughts on “A model for trust

  1. Pingback: Building trust between team members | Agile Vietnam

  2. Pingback: How “inappropriate” organizational culture may contribute to the failure of a startup | Agile Vietnam

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