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Trust and Co-operation in Business Relationship Development: Exploring the Influence of National Values

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This paper makes an initial exploration of whether and to what extent different national values may affect the development of business relationships between individuals in different countries, by specifically examining the development of trust and co-operation between people. It first identifies key factors that may determine the nature and effect of trust in business relationships. Trust based on calculus, knowledge, and identification are distinguished. Inhibitions to co-operation are also identified, which include the perceptions of economic value, of social returns, of risk, and of competence of the potential co-operating parties. A model of trust formation and its impact on co-operation enabling detailed interpretation of empirical data is presented.

Notions of national values developed in previous research are outlined, and a set of formal tabulated propositions regarding how these may be expected to influence different aspects of trust formation in different European countries is developed. The relevance and applicability in understanding different approaches to business development in different countries is then explored. The trust relationships of three matched case companies, one each from France, Holland and the United Kingdom are examined in terms of the propositions detailed, by means of verbal protocol analysis. Marked differences were found between the three individual business leaders, and these largely matched the theoretical propositions generated. Different types of trust relationships were sought and required by the individuals examined, and they each needed different co-operation criteria to be addressed before they would co-operate.

This study is only exploratory, and stereotypes need to be avoided, but more concrete propositions can be suggested as to why and how national values influence business to business relationships. National values appear to influence the relative importance placed by individuals in the types of trust they require to co-operate with others, and the criteria they implicitly employ in deciding whether to co-operate or not.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-07-01

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