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What do bank managers, pharmacists and salesmen all have in common?

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —November 23, 2005
Filed in Communication

Well, they did all just appear in a Roy Morgan survey of Professional Ethics and Honesty. But, the interesting thing is there seems to be a story here looking at the levels of trust since the late 1970’s. To summarise (with poetic license) there has been a marked decline in trust in bank managers over time, an increase in the trust of pharmacists, and salesmen, well…poor old salesmen seem never to be trusted…

Change in Trust

Robert Putnam was one of the first people to bring to our awareness the value of social capital in Bowling Alone. The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Looking at the trends for Bank Managers and Pharmacists it seems like there is something happening in their social networks.

Coming from the country, it’s interesting how many stories I used to hear about people who would often ‘go into town’ to have a social visit to their bank manager. Strange it may seem, but bank managers once were quite highly thought of (as you can also see from the data in our figure above). Viewed from this perspective, bank managers had high social capital. Sadly, it seems that all the closing of branches and influx of information technology into the Australian banking sector has severly eroded that social capital.

On the flip side I find it really interesting that Pharmacists have had a slow rise in the levels of trust. Looking around this seems to make sense. Pharmacists are often the first port of call for sick people. I’ve even heard stories of people who profess on hardly ever going to doctors these days, saying that their pharmacist will be able to help them out. It seems that there is a network effect working on the levels of pharmacists social capital pushing them to becoming pillars of the community.

For the record: the Nursing profession (down 1% to 89%) was still seen as the most ethical and honest profession, as it has been every year since being included on the survey in 1994.

About  Andrew Rixon

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