Trust in safety-critical contexts

Brian C. Gunia, Sharon H. Kim, Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Although all organizations are concerned with reducing risks and preventing hazards, organizations in certain industries (e.g. commercial aviation, nuclear power, chemical processing, and healthcare) must be particularly attuned to safety. This chapter reviews research on trust dynamics in safety-critical contexts, starting from research indicating that trust positively influences safety behaviours and outcomes. However, recent crises and research developments draw attention to the fact that trust is a double-edged sword: excessive trust can undermine safety. This chapter attempts to shed light on this dilemma by offering four perspectives that summarize the literature’s various views on the subject of trust. Despite progress in understanding the nuanced role trust plays in safety-critical contexts, our review suggests that there is both a need and an opportunity to study these variables more deeply and creatively. We conclude by identifying some gaps in the literature, proposing avenues for future research, and offering implications for practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Trust
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781317595717
ISBN (Print)9781138817593
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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