UVA Darden Faculty Publish New Book on Public Trust in Business

By Bruce Vik

What do business leaders know about building public trust in their companies? What don’t they know and how might that be important for their particular businesses? Past surveys by Gallop indicate that low public trust in business is an enduring phenomenon, but the underlying causes are not always clear.

Public trust in business is one of the most important but least understood issues for business leaders, public officials, employees and other key stakeholders. A new book, edited by University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professors Jared D. HarrisBrian T. Moriarty and Andrew C. Wicks, seeks to close the knowledge gap in our understanding of how public trust in business works. Public Trust in Business (Cambridge University Press, July 2014) draws on the expertise of an international array of experts from academic disciplines including business, sociology, political science and philosophy. Each chapter begins with an executive summary that identifies key lessons for managers seeking to build and maintain public trust in their companies.

Why should business leaders worry about declining public trust in business? According to Wicks, Moriarty and Harris in the opening chapter, “public displeasure may result in increased government regulation, a decline in customer confidence and corresponding sales, or even a ‘brain drain’ of more top college graduates choosing a future outside the corporate world.” Additionally, they cite reputational damage and negative media coverage as major consequences of low trust in business.

“Research on trust has gained traction in the past decade and has become a vibrant part of the academic discourse. Yet, despite this interest, scholars have somehow managed to largely overlook the topic of public trust in business. Given the stakes involved, and the consequences for trusting either too much or too little, this omission is surprising. This book gives practicing managers as well as scholars a much clearer picture of what is at stake,” said Wicks, who also serves as director of Darden’s Olsson Center for Applied Ethics. Darden’s Olsson Center serves as a critical resource for executives, scholars, students and Darden alumni who are faced with the challenges of integrating ethical thinking into business decision-making.

Published by Cambridge University Press, the book identifies new ways of advancing trust, by carefully blending the latest academic research with conclusions for future research and practice. They address core drivers of public trust, how to manage it effectively, the consequences of low public trust, and how best to address trust challenges and repair trust when it has been lost.

Harris, Moriarty and Wicks contribute chapters to the book, as well as Darden Professor Bidhan L. Parmar. The book includes contributions from renowned scholars Eric M. Uslaner, Deepak Malhotra, Robert Bies, Kirsten Martin, Michael Pirson, Karen S. Cook, Oliver Schilke, Roderick Kramer, Paul Argenti, Reinhard Bachmann, Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis, Bart Nooteboom, Gjalt de Jong, Laura Poppo and Donald J. Schepker.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia