Chapter 22: Trust and/or Power: Towards a Sociological Theory of Organizational Relationships
Reinhard Bachmann 1. Introduction This chapter deals with trust and power as mechanisms to coordinate expectations between social actors. It will be shown that trust is an eﬀective means to control social relationships between individual and organizational actors. Depending on diﬀerent forms of trust and power, which are largely determined by the institutional business environment in which relationships are embedded, both mechanisms engage in diﬀerent combinations with one another. Each of these combinations has their speciﬁc consequences with regard to the level of trust that will prevail in business relationships. This chapter will proceed as follows: ﬁrst, the nature of trust as a social phenomenon will be examined (Section 2). Then (Section 3), the insights gained through this analysis will be transferred to relationships between business organizations which are viewed as a speciﬁc type of social exchange. In the next section of this chapter (Section 4), power will be introduced and analysed as a ‘combinable functional equivalent’ to trust that is equally eﬀective in coordinating expectations and controlling relationships, both at the general level of social exchange and at the level of economic relationships between ﬁrms. Following from this step of the argument, the intricate interlinkages between ‘interactional’ forms of trust and power, on the one hand, and ‘institutional-based’ forms of trust and power, on the other hand, will be analysed (Section 5). This will be the central part of the theoretical argument presented in this chapter. Here, it will be argued that in...
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