A1 Journal article (refereed)
Trust research in public relations : an assessment of its conceptual, theoretical and methodological foundations (2020)

Valentini, C. (2020). Trust research in public relations : an assessment of its conceptual, theoretical and methodological foundations. Corporate Communications, 26(1), 84-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/ccij-01-2020-0030

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Valentini, Chiara

Journal or series: Corporate Communications

ISSN: 1356-3289

eISSN: 1758-6046

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 26

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 84-106

Publisher: Emerald

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/ccij-01-2020-0030

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


During the past few years, public trust in organisations, institutions and systems has decreased. Trust is an important antecedent not only for relationship-building but also for image and reputation management. This study aims to systematically review scientific publications on public relations and trust to explore the current status of trust research, including its conceptual definition, measurement and theorisation.

Only English-language scientific papers published in key public relations journals were analysed. Titles, abstracts and keywords were searched with the terms “public relations” and/or “strategic communication” and/or “communication management” and “trust”, returning 254 discrete articles. Quantitative content analysis and thematic analysis were used to extract information.

Trust research has limited methodological and intellectual diversity. Most studies have been published by North American scholars using surveys and interviews as the primary methods, and most are positioned within the public relations literature. One-third of papers do not use any specific theory to define trust, and about 13% of those in which trust is a central element do not refer to any conceptual foundation. The majority of papers are centred on professional and managerial problems, with limited discussion of publics/stakeholders' or societal problems.

This study offers important information about the development of trust research in public relations and sheds light on current knowledge gaps that can inform future research.

Keywords: organisations (systems); enterprises; trust; reliability (general); stakeholder groups; public relations; literature surveys; systematic reviews

Free keywords: trust; public relations; systematic review; quantitative content analysis; thematic analysis

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:30