With the fast pace of globalization and knowledge-driven economy, the notion of trust in intra- and/or trans-organizational relations has attracted enormous attention both in academic research and business practices. It has been recognized that trust as a central mechanism
within and between organizations plays a crucial role for economic performance. Trust relationship at personal levels is particular important in an environment where the institutional foundations for trust are still underdeveloped. China is commonly regarded as a country with
low levels of institution-based trust. As a consequence, the quality of business relations, economic transactions and strategic alliances are strongly dependent on the degree of trust at personal levels.
The objective of this study is to contribute to our understanding of trust relationships between hierarchies within Chinese organizational settings. In this paper, we present our empirical research on trust at personal levels carried out in a large Chinese state-owned enterprise. Three hypotheses that characterise the subordinate’s trust in the superior are developed and tested. Based on the statistical evaluations from 1216 samples collected, factors that influence the truster’s propensity to trust are outlined. The determinants for the trustee’s trustworthiness are analysed. In conclusion, we emphasis that further research on trust at personal levels in different enterprises, and trust at organizational levels are needed in order to draw a generalised picture on trust relationships in organizational settings.