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Kirsti Malkamäki, Mirjami Ikonen and Taina Savolainen

This qualitative case study aims to improve our understanding of the trust-building process in a ‘real-life’ context based on the implementation of a new management system. This empirical case study focuses on how trust is built between two functional organizational units within a Finnish chain of hypermarkets. The study is based on qualitative data gathered by interviews from actors in these organization units at different levels of the organization. The findings first show that the management system may play an important role in the trust-building process. A common goal, the clear allocation of roles and responsibilities and defined procedures form the basis for efficient cooperation. Transparency, an interactive sharing of knowledge and control based on the management system were seen as the most important features of the trust-building process within an organization. In sum, structural and operational issues have a significant role in the trust-building process at the organizational level. In this case, a well-structured and functioning management system and an appropriate degree of control and monitoring are also seen as antecedents of trust. As interpersonal interaction in general is limited in a large company, communication can be enhanced by well-organized procedures and practices for making interactive participation possible for all personnel. Eventually, within the management system, the fundamental question is how an organization creates value for the customer in fulfilling the promises given, which lays the ground for competitive advantage and success.