Publication Date

February 2008


[Excerpt] Knowledge workers engaged in interorganizational collaborative initiatives (i.e., boundary spanners) can actively build and maintain interpersonal trust through a multi-step “threat regulation” process. Designed to mitigate counterparts’ fears that harm will arise out of the cooperative effort, threat regulation involves 1) perspective-taking (understanding how others might perceive and experience the risks of cooperation); 2) threat-reducing behavior (intentional efforts to influence others’ negative emotions); and 3) reflection (self-assessment leading to self-corrective actions). When hierarchical authority is absent, which is common in collaborative projects, boundary-spanners can adopt these behaviors to influence others’ emotions so as to gain the requisite trust and cooperation.


Suggested Citation
Williams, M. (2008). Building trust and cooperation in boundary-spanning teams (Impact Brief #26). Ithaca, NY: School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

For a more in-depth analysis, please see: Williams, M. (2007). “Building genuine trust through interpersonal emotion management: A threat regulation model of trust and collaboration across boundaries”. Academy of Management Review, 32(2).

The ILR Impact Brief series highlights the research and project based work conducted by ILR faculty that is relevant to workplace issues and public policy. The Briefs are prepared by Maralyn Edid, Senior Extension Associate, ILR School.

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Copyright by Cornell University.