The Meaning of Trust. A Content Analysis on the Diverse Conceptualizations of Trust in Scholarly Research on Business Relationships

Journal of Business Ethics 96 (4):657-668 (2010)
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Abstract

Scholarly research largely converges on the argument that trust is of paramount importance to drive economic agents toward mutually satisfactory, fair, and ethically compliant behaviors. There is, however, little agreement on the meaning of trust, whose conceptualizations differ with respect to actors, relationships, behaviors, and contexts. At present, we know much better what trust does than what trust is. In this article, we present an extensive review and analysis of the most prominent articles on trust in market relationships. Using computer-aided content analysis and network analysis methods, we identify key, recurring dimensions that guided the conceptualization of trust in past research, and show how trust can be developed as a multifaceted and layered construct. Our results are an important contribution to a convergence of research toward a shared and common view of the meaning of trust. This process is important to ensure the body of trust research’s internal theoretical consistency, and to provide reliable and common principles for the management of business relationships – a context in which opportunism and imperfect information may induce economic actors to cheat and stray from fair and ethically compliant behaviors.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The sociology of science: theoretical and empirical investigations.Robert King Merton - 1973 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Norman W. Storer.
Trust and Power.Niklas Luhmann - 1982 - Studies in Soviet Thought 23 (3):266-270.
Professional ethics and the culture of trust.Andrew Brien - 1998 - Journal of Business Ethics 17 (4):391 - 409.

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