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Trust in a military context: What contributes to trust in superior and subordinate leaders
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum. Karlstads universitet.
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum.
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum. Department of Leadership Development, Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, Bergen, Norway.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8274-6065
Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Trust Research, ISSN 2151-5581, E-ISSN 2151-559X, Vol. 3, no 2, 125-145 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim was to explore which components military personnel in peacekeeping operations perceive as contributing to trust in their superior and subordinate leaders during international or national operations or exercises. Data were collected among 591 military officers and cadets from Norway and Sweden using a questionnaire with open-ended questions. Two superior categories emerged: Individual-Related Characteristics and Communication- and Relationship-Related Characteristics. The former is made up of the higher-level categories Personal attributes and Experience and competence. The latter is derived from the higher-level categories Consideration and inspiration and Effective communication. In turn, all higher-level categories are underpinned by a number of subcategories (13 altogether). When comparing trust in superior leaders with trust in subordinate leaders, the results show that trust in superiors is characterised to a greater extent by Communication- and Relationship-related characteristics and also by Experience and professional knowledge. Trust in subordinate leaders is characterised to a greater extent by Personal attributes and Management competence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. Vol. 3, no 2, 125-145 p.
Keyword [en]
trust, military, character-based trust, relationship-based trust, leadership
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-4550DOI: 10.1080/21515581.2013.820029OAI: diva2:714379
Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2017-01-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Military Leaders and Trust
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Military Leaders and Trust
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to study trust in military leaders. Empirical data was gathered through interviews and questionnaires with military personnel mostly from Sweden, but also from four other European countries.

Paper I illustrates that trust in military leaders can be theoretically understood in terms of a hierarchical system of categories, higher-level categories and two superior categories labelled Individual-related and Communication- and relationship-related characteristics.

Paper II examines how trust between military leaders and their subordinates is related to negative critical incidents in international operations. The results show that trust can be affected by pre-existing influences, of both an individual and contextual nature. The level of trust that develops between leaders and subordinates appears to have an influence on perceptions and re-evaluations of leaders’ trustworthiness during and after involvement in critical incidents.

In Paper III, an instrument, Destrudo-L, was developed to measure destructive leadership behaviours on five different dimensions: Arrogant, unfair, Threats, punishments, overdemands, Ego-oriented, false, Passive, cowardly, and Uncertain, unclear, messy.

In Paper IV the relationship between constructive and destructive leadership behaviours and trust is examined. The results show that constructive leadership contributed most to trust in the immediate supervisor. A great deal of trust in immediate supervisors can be understood by evaluating both constructive and destructive leadership behaviours.

This thesis contributes with context-specific knowledge on trust in leaders in a military context and knowledge of psychological processes and individual dispositions that shape and change the willingness to trust leaders. The main findings presented in this thesis are the identification of characteristics of the trustor, the trustee, and the context which influences trust in military leaders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstad University Press, 2015. 191 p.
military leadership, trust, destructive leadership, constructive leadership, destrudo-L
National Category
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-5445 (URN)
Public defence
2015-10-02, Sjöströmsalen, Karlstad, 10:06 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-06-25 Created: 2015-06-22 Last updated: 2015-09-25Bibliographically approved

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