The scientific structure and evolution of trust within teams research: A citation network analysis and critical review


Within the fields of organizational and behavioural psychology, trust has emerged as a key ingredient for the effective functioning of teams and their members. Despite the many implications trust has for dyadic, team, and organizational functioning (e.g., increased team commitment, task performance, member satisfaction), this construct has received almost no attention in the field of sport psychology. Given that the benefits of trust are generalizable across contexts, advancing a line of inquiry to explore implications in sport is worthwhile. To effectively situate trust within the sports context, we first needed to explore the theoretical and conceptual evolution of the construct. To do so, we undertook a two-phase systematic review process. First, a citation network analysis was conducted to identify the most prominent authors, articles, and journals, followed by a critical review of the most influential articles pertaining to conceptual contributions. As a result of the citation network analysis, both descriptive and knowledge structures (i.e., conceptual, intellectual, and social perspectives) of the field were explored. Complementing these findings, the main themes of the critical review included: (a) dominant trust perspectives, (b) the over-engagement in conceptual developments, (c) the potential for early considerations to guide future trust research, and (d) embracing the complexities of trust. These findings reinforce the importance of cross-discipline collaboration when seeking to advance a systematic line of inquiry. Both theoretical and practical implications of these findings for the field of sport psychology will be explored to pave the way for future trust research.