Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation_Final Manuscript_KS.pdf (1.61 MB)

Can You Put Humpty Together Again?: Multiple Pathways to Repair Trust

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posted on 2022-04-20, 19:25 authored by Kinshuk SharmaKinshuk Sharma

Prior literature on trust repair has focused primarily on exploring the effectiveness of different trust repair tactics in various contexts and the study of repair of trust as a process has been neglected. The literature has also suggested the presence of the humpty-dumpty effect in trust repair i.e. trust cannot be completely repaired once broken, though the claim has been more philosophical than empirical. In this dissertation, we explore the effect of tactic composites instead of analyzing the effect of each tactic separately (as has been the trend in the literature) that can be incorporated by the trustee to repair trust. We also develop multiple pathways that can potentially repair trust completely (specifically, redirect and replenish pathways) and one pathway that can restore the relationship by reestablishing cooperation but without repairing trust (redefine pathway). We structure the tactic composites within these pathways to explore the possibility of complete trust repair. Our results from a policy-capturing technique study and an experimental study show that in the redirect pathway, factual or symbolic evidence backed denial (but not denial alone) increases believability of the innocence claim by the trustee and can repair trust by improving the level of broken trustworthiness of the trustee. In the replenish pathway, only tactic composites that showcase regret through verbal tactics and repentance through behavioral tactics are able to make the trustor perceive that the trustee experiences remorse for the transgression, and only tactics that cater to individual and relational disequilibrium can increase perceived norm restoration in the eyes of the trustor. Both perceived remorse and norm restoration improved the levels of the broken trustworthiness. Finally, in the redefine pathway, strong control systems were better than weak control systems to restore cooperation, even though they had a negative relationship with the level of post-intervention trust. We also tested the potential of complete trust repair through the redirect pathway but did not find conclusive evidence. We discuss the limitations of the empirical studies and make suggestions for future research.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Management

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Schoorman

Additional Committee Member 2

Benjamin Dunford

Additional Committee Member 3

Meredith Woehler

Additional Committee Member 4

Shawn Bauldry

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