Repertoires of trust: The practice of trust in a multinational organization amid political conflict

Nissim Mizrachi*, Israel Drori, Renee R. Anspach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sociologists and other social scientists have recently renewed their interest in the concept of trust. Multidisciplinary studies have identified social psychological, economic, and structural determinants of trust; traced its development in interpersonal relationships; and explored its transformation in response to modernization. Drawing on ethnographic research at a multinational corporation operating in a politically charged environment, we reexamine these approaches to trust. We explore trust relations between Israeli and Jordanian managers in an Israeli-Jordanian industrial site. Trust, always tenuous in multinational collaboration, poses formidable challenges to this fragile relationship between former enemies. Comparing trust relations during normalization and political unrest provides a natural experiment for observing how forms of trust change in response to a transformed political environment. We show how Jordanians and Israelis apply different forms of trust alternately and interchangeably, transcending cultural dichotomies such as tradition and modernity and deviating from presupposed developmental paths. Following practice theory, our "trust repertoires" approach depicts actors as knowledgeable agents who select, compose, and apply different forms of trust as part of their cultural repertoires. By applying forms of trust, actors demarcate the boundaries of their social relationships. At the same time, actors' strategies are inextricably intertwined with the power structure and political context. In the conclusion, we consider the implications of this analysis for control and coordination in the workplace, including labor process theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-165
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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