Trust-based Leadership as a Leadership Trend: A Study Based on Companies Ranked by Great Place to Work as one of the Best Places to Work for in Norway in 2015.

Susanne Bakkebø & Helen Hoseth Kosberg

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this Master Thesis we want to examine the human part of management, where our focus has been on trust. We want to provide a contribution to how it is possible to combine a management philosophy of trust with organizational interaction. In this sense, the aim of this Master Thesis is to get a deeper insight into the phenomenon trust-based leadership. This Master Thesis is based on a qualitative method, where the purpose is to get a better understanding of the research question using a combination of a deductive and an inductive approach. The research question in this Master Thesis is; “how does the best companies work with trust-based leadership, and how can this leadership trend lead to competitive advantages?”. In total, respondents from seven companies expressed their subjective experiences about trust-based leadership through semi-structured interviews. These respondents represented companies that all were on the Great Place to Work list of best companies to work for in Norway in 2015. Furthermore, we interviewed two informants form Great Place to Work, to get a better understanding of their work and analytical approach, and further we interviewed one expert on the field of trust-based leadership. We chose to interview these people in order to get the most holistic view of the phenomenon. Our findings indicate that freedom with responsibility is essential in all companies that we have based this Thesis on. The respondents told that leaders are trying to create relationships with their employees, so they can bring out the best in each and everyone. The companies facilitate transparency through communication and involvement, and this intends to motivate the employees. We have found that premises for practicing trust-based leadership is competent and motivated employees, and therefore recruiting the right people becomes an important factor. This Master Thesis will try to show how this could lead to competitive advantages. We have also gained insight into how the companies are working, where they have shared their practices and experiences. In this sense, we have examined how the companies work with trust, relations, motivation and communication. One of our findings is the fact that six out of seven companies based their activities on work outside the office. This independent work refers to the companies’ acknowledgement of their employees’ competence, where the companies look at their employees as the most important resource. In other words, it’s all about the people.

EducationsMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages199