Trust is consistently identified as a key factor in the success of organizations. Despite its importance, public trust of U.S. institutions has fallen steadily over six decades. One exception is public trust of the U.S. military, which has increased. This qualitative Delphi study sought to answer the question: What are the perceived characteristics of the trust relationship between the U.S. military and the general public at the point interface where senior military leaders, their public affairs advisors, and national-security media representatives directly facilitate the relay of information between the military and the public? This study also sought to identify which, if any, of those perceived characteristics are unique in the literature, or if they are uniquely prioritized in the trust relationship between the U.S. military and the general public. The purpose of the study was to explore a favorable trust relationship in an effort to identify characteristics that might be beneficial to other leaders in their effort to establish, preserve, or strengthen public trust in their own institutions. The Delphi methodology was used to achieve consensus of opinion among three groups of subject matter experts who, in accordance with joint U.S. doctrine, act as a point of direct interface between the military and the public. Retired senior military officers, retired or former military public affairs officers (PAOs), and journalists who cover the national-security beat for national and international media organizations participated in the study. During three survey rounds, members of two independent groups identified, prioritized, and defined characteristics they perceived as contributing most to the favorable trust relationship between the U.S. military; anonymously reviewed input from other group members; and modified their own input. Overall consensus was reached among these two groups of subject-matter experts that prioritization of honesty, integrity, and credibility contributes most to a favorable trust relationship. Summative content analysis of the respective group’s definitions of those terms revealed key themes of open communication and the critical importance of an organization’s members doing and saying the right thing, regardless of consequences.
|Subjects||Management; Organization theory; Organizational behavior|
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