, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 339-355

Trust in Companies and in CEOs: A Comparative Study of the Main Influences

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Abstract

Trust is a crucial factor for the long-term economic success of a company. However, not only does the company establish trust, but the CEO representing the company builds up trust as well and, therefore, also influences the company’s success. Our study examines how different dimensions of trust (i.e., ability, integrity, benevolence, and information quality) influence the degree of overall trust in a company and in CEOs. Nevertheless, dimensions that influence trust in a CEO can be completely different to those influencing trust in companies. Companies and CEOs that act on an international level can hardly be experienced individually, and thus people get information about the company via media use. Therefore, additionally we examine which kind of media is used for getting information about a company or CEO and whether a relationship exists between media use and trust. Findings from a survey in Switzerland (n = 245) show that companies are more trusted than CEOs and that the items which influence overall trust differ between CEOs and companies. Social responsibility as a benevolence item is important for both groups. Regarding information on different media channels, users of traditional media like newspapers, TV, and radio are most critical regarding trust in companies and CEOs.