Trust is – as a major financial institution, Deutsche Bank, put it in one of their advertising slogans in the late 1990s – ‘der Anfang von allem’ (‘the beginning of everything’). Only a decade later, the role of trust in economic life was massively challenged by the global financial crisis, which resulted in an ongoing devastating trust crisis. Confidence in the promises of financial institutions to honour their commitments has declined dramatically since 2008, when Lehmann Brothers collapsed overnight. The consequences of this crisis are hard to over-estimate as the ability to create, maintain and repair trust can profoundly affect the future of business, and even the fortunes of nation-states, as Francis Fukuyama (1995) notes in his classic work, Trust: Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. In the mid-1990s many other scholars also discovered the importance of trust in business relationships and the interest in this topic suddenly exceeded all limits. A neutral observer might well have concluded that trust was just another research fad that would long be forgotten in the second decade of the 21st century. The reality could not be more different. Trust has meanwhile been very widely accepted as one – if not the – key sources of success in business relationships, and one that influences the efficiency and scale of all economic activity.
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