Yet, despite widespread recognition that trust operates at multiple levels (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998) and that an organization's reputation for trustworthiness is a key "source of competitive advantage" (Barney & Hansen, 1994: 175), research has been slow to systematically and conceptually unpack the notion of organization-level trust as distinct from interpersonal trust.
At present, there is no clear consensus on the concept of trust or trustworthiness at the organizational level, nor is there coherent theory, an agreed model or sufficient empirical research to guide a comprehensive understanding of organizational trust and how the latter might be linked to trust at more macro and micro levels.
Indeed, relatively few attempts have been made to capture the essence of impersonal trust (for foundational work see Luhmann, 1979; Shapiro, 1987; Zucker, 1986) and how macro and micro level forces influence trust dynamics at the institutional level. Some research suggests that interorganizational trust and public trust in organizations and institutions may have different dimensions than interpersonal trust (e.g. Zaheer, McEvily & Perrone, 1998). Recent and emerging work has started to unpack the concept of organizational trust and identify its determinants. For example, Bachmann (2001) suggests that strongly regulated business systems produce much higher levels of impersonal trust than liberal capitalist systems. Gillespie and Dietz (2009) propose that employees' perceptions of organizational trustworthiness are influenced by cues sent by six key system components, including organizational leadership and management, culture, strategy, structures and policies, external governance, and public reputation.
The latter authors further identify that the processes of trust repair at the organizational level are fundamentally different from those at the interpersonal level, with several dilemmas and problems arising for institutions that do not pertain to interpersonal contexts.