Trust forms the bedrock of any business and can be seen as the fundamental currency of all human activity. The nurturing of trust is key to risk management, innovativeness and economic progress. Businesses benefit from several types of intelligence, especially those that give them power owing to an asymmetry of knowledge. However, firms often lack Integrative Intelligence, a key ability that creates new opportunities to incorporate both technology and soft human factors in order to harmoniously nurture trust.
The word trust forms an integral part of our lives at different levels, such as emotional, psychological, sociological and economic. Researchers have demonstrated that humans have an innate propensity to be trusting,1 and that trust has a moderating impact on our behaviour and interrelational activities, especially economic activities.2 The level of trust indicates the amount of risk that entities can take, especially in complex situations where rational reasoning is either impossible or unpragmatic. Furthermore, as technologies and formal institutions rapidly spread, we require an understanding of their impact on different aspects of trust, including nurturing, evaluation and expression. To date, a great deal of effort has been spent on evaluating (or measuring) trust with the hope of pushing entities towards nurturing and expressing a greater degree of trust. Numerous institutions measure explicit or tacit expressions of trust at various levels. For instance, the Trust Barometer3 measures trust in relation to countries’ willingness to accept innovations (as an expression of trust). Based on data from the Trust Barometer report 2015, countries’ trust rankings show movement of United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, India and Indonesia towards the top with several European nations including Germany, France and Spain plus Japan and Korea towards the bottom.
However, evaluations of trust alone cannot lead us through the various problems related to distrust. We must develop a holistic understanding of trust if we are to incorporate it into our activities, and integratively and sustainably nurture and express it. Clearly, businesses and their stakeholders cannot afford to ignore trust.
Trust: the currency of business
Trust forms the bedrock of any business and can be seen as the fundamental currency of any interrelational activity among a businesses’ stakeholders. Trust’s importance, as well as the ways of evaluating and expressing it, varies with the nature of the business and the interrelations among stakeholders in various sub-contexts. For instance, consumer trust plays a role in consumer-product and customer-company interrelations. Trust also plays a role in workforce-company interrelations in the context of motivation,4 and it enhances coherence in the workforce (as a diverse workforce may not have a common background or similarities on which to rely). In company-stakeholder interrelations, trust is seen as a means for managing risk and can serve as an alternative to control systems.6
About the Authors
Sharda S. Nandram is a consultant and a co-founder of Praan Group. She is also a psychologist, economist and professor at Nyenrode Business University and Banasthali University. She is a co-founder of Integrative Intelligence, which helps organisations facing VUCA. She has more than three decades of academic, consulting and entrepreneurial experience in the healthcare, accountancy, banking and insurance, public service, education, and sports sectors.
Puneet K. Bindlish is a practicing consultant and an academic in the area of Integrative Intelligence for organisations facing VUCA. He is also a co-founder of Integrative Intelligence. He teaches at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) in Varanasi, India. He has rich academic, consulting and entrepreneurial experience in the healthcare, telecom, technology, banking and insurance, education, sports, and public-service sectors
Navin V. Keizer is currently part of the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Master’s program at University College London, and he has spent a year abroad at Columbia University. He is fascinated by business, technology and the role of big data, which has led him to study strategic and investment issues in organisations integratively using the newest technologies. Several internships have given him experience in the practical issues of business.
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10. This figure has been taken from the book Understanding Integrating Intelligence (2010) by the same authors. Permission to reproduce in this article given by the publishers – Praan Uitgeverij, The Netherlands.
11. Adapted from Figure 4.3 in: Nandram et al. (2017). Understanding Integrative Intelligence, Praan Uitgeverij, Netherlands pg 84.
12. Thomke Stephan (2012). Mumbai’s Models of Service Excellence, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2012/11/mumbais-models-of-service-excellence.
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14. Nandram S., Bindlish P. (2017). Understanding Integrative Intelligence, Praan Uitgeverij. Chapter 8 pages 144-189.