Investigating Trust in the German Construction Industry: A Contractor’s Autoethnographic Exploration of Trust and Lévinas

Grosse, Henning (2018) Investigating Trust in the German Construction Industry: A Contractor’s Autoethnographic Exploration of Trust and Lévinas. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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In this work I use autoethnography to explore my business practices in the construction company I own and manage. I draw on postmodern ethics and Lévinas’ thoughts to contribute to, first, the pursuit of autoethnography as practitioner research, second, the understanding of trust’s nature and role in the light of Lévinas’ philosophy and, third, its implications for managerial practice. Lévinas’ thought about the relationship between self and Other and his notions of Saying and Said assisted me while reflecting on trust in my business environment. Writing fieldnotes and reflections about my experiences in business, I show that autoethnography done by an industry practitioner provides unique insights which are not available to outsiders. In particular, insiders are able to deconstruct commonly held assumptions by drawing on their own thoughts and feelings. Although trust is often seen as serving a purpose, I strongly oppose this view. Trust is a non-calculative mode of interaction since a calculative approach cannot explain trust. I argue that trust belongs to Lévinas’ Saying. It is not a conscious decision but a preconscious urge towards the Other which I may rationally control. Lévinas’ Saying links trust, responsibility, forgiving, and genuine care for the Other. Trust as Saying supports its recurring nature and explains its elusive nature. Trusting the Other is not a conscious decision but an opening to basic human interaction – conversation and sociality. Trusting an unknowable Other risks disappointment and hence it demands forgiving – almost pre-emptively. However, it also makes it possible to benefit from the Other in unknowable ways. The uncertainty about the Other requires loosening control and making oneself vulnerable to the trusted. This questions ever-tighter control mechanisms and a culture of accountability that one experiences in business. However, without the courage to trust, one cannot unleash the creative power of trusting cooperation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Additional Information: The original thesis included 10 publications / conference papers which have been redacted for copyright reasons.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accountability; Trust; Co-operation; Construction industry
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5387 Business Ethics
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2019 12:27
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 12:54

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