Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2016.0248

We conducted two studies examining how the “look and feel” of an organization shapes newcomers’ trust in that organization. More specifically, we examined the effects of situational normality—the degree to which the work setting appears customary, with everything in proper order. We then introduced the construct of situational aesthetics—the degree to which the work setting has a pleasing and attractive appearance. A field study of new accountants revealed that situational normality and situational aesthetics had indirect effects on trust through perceived trustworthiness, with trust going on to predict coworker ratings of learning behavior. We then replicated those trustworthiness findings in a laboratory setting. Taken together, our results suggest that newcomer trust formation may be shaped by aspects of the work setting that have been heretofore ignored by trust scholars.

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