‘Talking About the Boss’: Gossip and Trust in Organizations

It’s in the news: your coworkers are gossiping about you—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Understanding the dynamics of workplace gossip can lead to valuable insights about management and organizations. When is gossip more likely to flow? What makes an employee engage in, or avoid, positive or negative gossip?

Lea Ellwardt, Rafael Wittek and Rudi Wielers, all of the University of Groningen, published “Talking About the Boss: Effects of Generalized and Interpersonal Trust on Workplace Gossip” on June 28, 2012 in Group & Organization Management (GOM). This innovative study looks specifically at workplace gossip about managers—both positive and negative—and the role of interpersonal trust in determining gossip dynamics:

The employees’ decision to gossip is guided by the trust embedded in the horizontal and vertical relationships in the triad. The level of trust in the manager influences the tone of gossip (i.e., vertical relationship). Furthermore, employees need to trust that their immediate colleagues will support the gossiper and not leak the information (i.e., horizontal relationship). In brief, we expect negative gossip to increase with the degree of distrust in vertical relationships and trust in horizontal relationships. Positive gossip is less risky and expected to be less affected by trust.

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This entry was posted in Relationships, Trust and tagged , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

2 thoughts on “‘Talking About the Boss’: Gossip and Trust in Organizations

  1. Pingback: Why we love to gossip about our managers | Gossip Research

  2. Pingback: Why we love to gossip about our managers | Lectoraat Change Management

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