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Type: Conference paper
Title: Inter-firm trust: two theoretical dimensions versus a global measure
Author: Medlin, C.
Quester, P.
Citation: Culture and collaboration in distribution networks: Proceedings of the Inaugural Conference of the IMP Group in Asia, held in Perth, Western Australia 2002
Publisher Place: CDROM
Issue Date: 2002
Conference Name: Inaugural Conference of the IMP Group in Asia (2002 : Perth, W.A.)
Editor: Batt, P.
Statement of
Chris Medlin and Pascale Quester
Abstract: Trust is an essential construct of actor bonds in the IMP framework (Håkansson and Snehota 1995), and is also known to be important for inter-firm relationships (Håkansson and Snehota 1995; Morgan and Hunt 1994). Trust has been conceptualised as a multi-dimensional construct in previous business-tobusiness research, with the two dominant theoretical dimensions of benevolence or goodwill on the one hand (Ring and Van de Ven 1992) and confidence, credibility or predictability that a partner may be relied upon, on the other (Anderson and Weitz 1989). These theoretical dimensions are recognised in early inter-firm research by Schurr and Ozanne (1985) who used the inter-personal definition of trust developed by Blau (1964) and Rotter (1967). However, some doubt has arisen as to whether these theoretical dimensions exist, with Doney and Canon (1997) finding that they could not discriminate empirically between the dimensions of benevolence and credibility. In addition, most papers have resorted to a global operationalization of trust, so discounting the question of dimensionality. After a review of some elements of trust and its measurement in the inter-firm literature, this paper presents empirical evidence that trust can be treated as a global measure for inter-firm research. This evidence is based on a survey of 83 principals and distributor/agent firms from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. All firms were involved in the business applications computer software industry, where development of trust is a key element of successful inter-firm interaction. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for future inter-firm research and theory development on trust formation.
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