A 10 Nation Exploration of Trustworthiness in The Workplace


  • Catherine T. Kwantes
  • Arief B. Kartolo


In the context of the workplace, and especially in today’s often fast-paced, cross-cultural and virtual work environment, a basic type of trust—“swift trust”—forms quickly based on cognitive processes and beliefs, or stereotypes, of another. Interpersonal trust is in large part based on these contextualized assessments of the extent to which another person is trustworthy. While trust across cultural boundaries has been examined, there is a lack of research investigating how trustworthiness is determined cross-culturally, especially with respect to what heuristics are used in the development of trust. The current project explored how trustworthiness is conceptualized and described for both colleagues and supervisors across 10 nations using the Stereotype Content Model. Qualitative descriptors of trustworthy supervisors and colleagues were coded based on the importance ascribed to warmth and competence, and these codes were used as the basis for cluster analyses to examine similarities and differences in descriptors of role-based trustworthiness. Both differences and similarities in the expectations of trustworthiness were found across the national samples. Some cultures emphasized both warmth and competence as equally important components to developing trustworthiness, some emphasized only warmth, while others emphasized only competence. Variations of trustworthiness stereotypes were found in all but two national samples based on role expectations for supervisors and colleagues. Data from the GLOBE project related to societal cultural practices and cultural leadership prototypes were drawn on to discuss findings.