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University of Nebraska Public Policy Center

Institutional Trust and Confidence: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

This NSF funded workshop (SES-1353980) focused on advancing trust scholarship by bringing together senior and junior scholars from a variety of social science disciplines who share interest in moving toward developing truly interdisciplinary, cohesive and comprehensive theories of institutional trust.

In April of 2014, scholars from around the world convened at UNL. The workshop was held in conjunction with the annual Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, which focused on the role of institutional trust in cooperation and compliance behaviors. For four days, attendees collaborated and networked with junior and senior trust scholars across more than a dozen disciplines to move forward on new endeavors and expand current research.

Workshop activities included breakout sessions in which participants chose one of seven different “key questions” regarding the future of trust research to discuss with other attendees; “coffee klatch” events to generate research collaborations and new mentor-mentee relationships; “data- and theory-blitz” sessions in which participants presented trust-relevant research for five minutes each, followed by discussion and questions; themed sessions on trust in policy-relevant social science and natural science; themed roundtables on how trust should be defined and measured, procedural justice theorizing, trust in healthcare contexts, and the legitimacy of elected vs. appointed officials and institutions; and a themed discussion about real-world trust applications for how institutions (such as the judiciary, municipalities, the healthcare system, etc.) could benefit by knowing more about trust.

There will be a forthcoming workshop volume published by Springer in 2015. The purpose of this innovative and exciting volume is to move the field of trust research, particularly trust in institutions, from a multidisciplinary to an interdisciplinary endeavor. This is a critically needed advance in the broad “field” of trust research because, although a great deal of scholarship has addressed trust and related constructs such as confidence, legitimacy, and procedural justice, very little of this research has spanned disciplinary foci. The volume includes collaborative engagements and products from interdisciplinary teams of authors who participated in the workshop. Sections of the volume include the importance of definitions and contexts in studying institutional trust; methodological advances in the study of trust; considering trust as emotion, morality, and rationality; and theoretical advances regarding the “dark” and “light” sides of institutional trust.

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