Miami Herbert houses the First International Network on Trust Association’s new FINT Seminar Series

Scholars from across the globe attend virtual seminars showcasing interdisciplinary research in the study of trust within and between organizations.
Miami Herbert houses the First International Network on Trust Association’s new FINT Seminar Series

Since March, the First International Network on Trust (FINT) Seminar Series, hosted quarterly by Miami Herbert, brings together scholars from around the world and across disciplines to learn about the latest research on trust as a social behavior that propels relationships at interpersonal and organizational levels. The initiative, established in collaboration with the FINT Association, highlights Miami Herbert’s position as an institution with an international scope that unites thought leaders and constructively influences business practice.

The unifying theme of trust encompasses analyses of the ability of persons to rely on each other, such as in virtual teams, or organizations to cooperate, such as in joint ventures or strategic alliances.

“We define trust as our willingness to be vulnerable based on positive expectations that we have about how another person or an organization is going to behave,” explains Cecily Cooper, Miami Herbert associate professor of management and a board member of the FINT Association, an international community of trust scholars dedicated to fostering research through biennial conferences.

She points out that individuals decide to trust a company when joining it as an employee, buying its products as a consumer, or investing in its stock as an investor. “These are risk-taking decisions,” she mentions. “Trust is what allows all of these behaviors to occur and what allows people to cooperate and coordinate within and between organizations.”

Cooper, along with FINT President Lisa Van Der Werff from Dublin City University in Ireland, spearheads the FINT Seminar Series at Miami Herbert, which stands as the association’s latest large-scale endeavor.

“The community of trust researchers is a close-knit one,” she says. “It is wonderful to be able to come together every three months via Zoom and keep our members engaged and abreast of current research, but the seminars also help us grow the trust community and garner more interest in the field.”

The discussions draw an audience of university faculty and Ph.D students from various backgrounds including organizational behavior, strategy, sociology, and political science, as well as practitioners and managers seeking a deeper understanding of organizational relationship building. In addition to insights into latest research, scholars receive news and announcements of current opportunities. Until February 1, 2022, for instance, Cooper is part of an editorial team actively receiving submissions on the key role of trust amid dramatic internal and external organizational changes for an upcoming special edition of the Academy of Management Review, a top-tier journal in Management.

Prominent scholars doing work in or relevant to trust in organizations serve as guest speakers. In the inaugural session, Ashely Fulmer from Georgia State University and Bart De Jong from Australian Catholic University discussed trust from different levels of analysis. The second event, held in July, featured University of Hong Kong’s Fabrice Lumineau and National University of Singapore’s David De Cremer, who spoke about trust and technology, including the impact of artificial intelligence on employee relationships.

The third FINT seminar will take place on Nov. 9. Speakers Nicole Gillespie, KPMG chair and professor of management at the University of Queensland in Australia, and Dejun Tony Kong, associate professor at the University of South Florida and a 2019 Poets and Quants top 40 under 40 scholar, will discuss challenges and developments in the area of trust during disruption. The topic may seem timely as socio-economic impacts continue under the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the crisis caused the postponement of FINT’s March 2021 conference and motivated Cooper and Van Der Werff to explore alternatives, sparking the advent of the FINT Seminar Series.

Cooper credits support from Miami Herbert Dean John Quelch for a successful launch, generating up to 120 attendees and engaged Q&A segments in the initial installments. Recorded sessions then garner further viewership on the FINT Seminar Series webpage.

“We’re getting constant feedback from scholars letting us know how happy they are that we are doing this seminar series,” she says. “I’m so grateful that Dean Quelch has given us the necessary resources and support.”

Regarding quickly embracing the idea, Dean Quelch states: “We recognize the interdisciplinary and global scope of the study area and are happy to be an institution that encourages advancement in the field.”

In March 2022, scholars and practitioners will come together in Charleston, South Carolina for FINT’s next in-person conference. Yet in addition to the biennial events, the trust community now has a home at Miami Herbert.