Studying trust in the leader by co-produced autoethnography: an organizational esthetics approach
Journal of Organizational Ethnography
PurposeThis paper aims at examining the prospects and possibilities of autoethnography in trust research. The focus of this study is on trust-building in a management team from an esthetic leadership perspective. The empirical context of the study is the organization of higher education during a funding reform.Design/methodology/approachThis study adopted a qualitative research strategy with co-produced autoethnographic methods. The data comprised the researcher's diary, field notes and written
... texts from informants. Autoethnographic methods were applied in data gathering; more precisely, the data were collected by the moving observing method of shadowing and complemented with the management team's written texts reporting their feelings. The data were analyzed by constructing autoethnographic vignettes and a critical frame story.FindingsThe findings of the study contribute to the methodological discussion of autoethnographic research when studying a complex phenomenon such as trust-building. The findings suggest that the role of authenticity in trust-building may vary depending on the esthetic leadership style. Furthermore, the findings contribute to the esthetic leadership theory by a proposal of esthetic reassurance as intentional leader-embodied communication aiming to reinforce follower trust in a leader.Originality/valueCo-produced autoethnography is applied in studying trust-building. Furthermore, this paper provides an inside view of the meaning of esthetics in leader-follower relationships in higher education organizations.