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In Memorium

A Tribute to Graham Dietz

By Nicole Gillespie

Graham Dietz was an outstanding scholar in trust research. He shaped much of our thinking and his influence continues to be seen in emerging research. Graham was admired for his creative and brilliant mind and deep understanding of both trust and HRM. He was sought after as a researcher and collaborator both by scholars and organisations. Indeed, the Institute of Business Ethics commissioned Graham to write a series of practitioner-oriented reports and cases on building and repairing trust, and he was invited to research trust by the UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Graham had great flexibility as a scholar that enabled him to draw inspiration and evidence from a broad range of sources and publish in a variety of outlets from top journals in management, business ethics and HRM (e.g. Academy of Management Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Human Resource Management) to practitioner oriented journals (e.g. Sloan Management Review) and media outlets (e.g. The Guardian, The Sunday Times). He had a particular talent and passion for conducting case-based research and was dedicated to conducting and translating research to make it relevant and accessible to managers and practitioners.

Graham was an extremely gifted educator and teacher. At Durham Business School, he was renowned for his success in building and leading the Masters in Management, making it one of the most highly ranked programmes in its class. He took great care to ensure not only that ‘his’ students received an excellent education but would also take international students under his wing ensuring they were socialised and integrated into the university and UK life. Due to Graham’s unwavering commitment to his students, many would describe their Masters’ year at Durham as one of the best of their lives. Graham took great pride in seeing his students graduate and go on to lead successful careers.

Graham’s reputation as an exceptional educator and scholar made him a highly sought after speaker and research-based trust consultant. He had a wonderful way of bringing a human touch to his teaching, imbuing it with his clever wit, deadpan humour and personal anecdotes that never failed to engage and inspire his audience. His teaching evaluations were exceptional. The list of organisations he ‘taught about trust’ is long and includes local UK organisations such as Sunderland City Council to high powered multinationals, such as UBS Bank, Lloyds Bank and most recently Barclays. He regularly received speaking invitations from influential groups such as the UK Parliament’s House of Lords and the Institute of Business Ethics. Many of us were fortunate enough to see Graham deliver one of his Teaching Trust workshops at FINT – testament to his generous spirit and genuine commitment to spread understanding of trust.

While we will always remember and admire Graham as a highly talented educator and scholar, many of us will remember Graham first and foremost as a much loved friend and colleague. Graham was principled in everything he did and had a clear sense of who he was, the values that he stood for, and what he considered right and wrong. His wonderfully caring and kind nature, his generosity of spirit, his compassion and unfailing respect for others, and his unwavering integrity and fairness in all things, made spending time with Graham simply a pleasure. I will always be indebted to Graham for the invaluable lessons he taught me just by being himself.

Work dedicated to Graham Dietz

The Routledge Companion to Trust (Eds Ros Searle, Ann-Marie Nienaber and Sim Sikin (2018). Of Graham: “A great scholar who died tragically young on 20 December 2014 with so much still to contribute. He was a strong and critical scholar, a great and impassioned teacher, a fun and enlivening presence in any gathering, and a dear and oft-missed friend.” (p. vii)

Special Issue of Organization Studies 36 (9) (Guest Eds Nicole Gillespie, Reinhard Bachmann and Richard Priem) on “Trust in Crisis: Organizational and Institutional Trust, Failures and Repair”. Of Graham Dietz, “a gifted scholar and inspiring educator who was passionate in his commitment to advancing understanding of trust in organizations” (p. 1138).

The second edition of the Handbook of Research Methods on Trust (Eds Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders. Of Graham: “His contributions to the conceptualization and measurement of trust were outstanding and we will sorely miss his inspiring insights” (p. xxiv).

Understanding Trust in Organizations: A Multilevel Perspective (Eds Nicole Gillespie, Ashley Fulmer & Roy Lewicki). Of Graham: “a wonderful trust scholar whose research and contributions to the community continue to inform and enrich our understanding of trust.

Li, P.P., Ferrin, D.L., Möllering, G. (2015). Editorial: Trust Research Community Misses an Outstanding Colleague and Friend: Graham Dietz (1969-2014), Journal of Trust Research 5 (1) 1-2.