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Patterns of Trust in Buyer-Seller Relationships: Motives for Formation, Drivers, Outcomes and Temporal Relationships

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The influence that trust is likely to exert on business-to-business relationships has been overshadowed for some time by an emphasis on concepts such as commitment and a failure to empirically examine trust from a multidimensional viewpoint. This has meant that empirical investigations of commitment are evolving to the point of recognising that this complex concept is best measured by employing a number of dimensions (e.g. affective, calculative and normative). On the other hand, trust is typically treated as unidimensional and the divergent motives for trust and the influence they can have on relationships have become neglected. Using data obtained from a mail survey with some 212 useable responses, different patterns or combinations of trust were explored in supply relationships. The three trust constructs employed subsume many of the values ascribed to trust from the literature (goodwill, competence and contractual). Four groups of respondents were identified with markedly different patterns of trust. The 'mix' of trust types a relationship is based on influences the relationships chiefly in terms of their performance outcomes. The study also adds evidence to dispel the myth that age of relationship impacts on the type of trust a relationship is based on.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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