Chapter 14: Forms, Sources and Processes of Trust
Bart Nooteboom Introduction Much has been written about trust, particularly outside economics, in sociology and management. In spite of this, much confusion and misunderstanding remains. Trust is full of paradox, as listed in Table 14.1. The purpose of this chapter is to untangle some of the confusion and to clarify the complexities of trust. The chapter draws on an earlier book (Nooteboom 2002), and gives a summary and an illustration of some central points; for further details and elaborations reference is made to the book.1 One important source of misunderstanding, related to Paradox 1 (see Table 14.1), is the confusion of trust as based on control (on the basis of self-interested behaviour) and trust as going beyond control (going beyond narrow self-interest). Can one speak of trust when one believes people will conform to expectations or agreements because they are contractually or hierarchically bound to do so, or because it is in their interest to do so, or only if they do so even though they have both the opportunity and the incentive not to do so? In other words, can trustworthiness go beyond self-interest? And if it does, is it then blind and unconditional? To clarify this, Nooteboom (2002) proposed a distinction between a wide notion of reliance, which includes control and incentives, and a narrower, stronger notion of trust, which goes beyond self-interest. As noted by Williamson (1993), if trust does not go beyond calculative self-interest, that is, control, it is not very meaningful. However, while Williamson argued...
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