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Forms, Foundations, Functions, Failures and Figures

Bart Nooteboom

Trust deals with a range of questions such as: what are the roles of trust? What can we trust in? Can trust serve as an instrument for the governance of relations? Is trust a substitute, a precondition or an outcome of contracts? The author then goes on to analyse what trust is based on, what its limits are, how it grows and how it can also break down. The role of intermediaries is also discussed.
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Chapter 1: Aims and Foundations

Forms, Foundations, Functions, Failures and Figures

Bart Nooteboom


This introductory chapter discusses the aims and the theoretical foundations of this book. In the first part it indicates why trust is important and why it needs to be discussed. There is still much confusion about the notion of trust, on which this book aims to provide a synthesis. An inventory of questions is given, for which the theoretical foundations for answering are presented in the second part of the chapter. Trust entails important issues of uncertainty and learning. To deal with those issues we need a theory of knowledge and learning, which has implications for the theory of the firm. To understand trust in the behaviour of people we need a theory of the causality of action. We can have trust in things, people, organizations and institutions. Institutions also form a basis of trust. For this we need a clarification of the notion of institutions. 1.1 AIMS Much has been written about trust, especially in the areas of sociology and management. Much insight has been given into the richness of the concept. However, there still is considerable confusion, with partly overlapping and partly conflicting definitions, analyses, explanations, conclusions and recommendations. The aim of this book is to contribute to more conceptual coherence, without surrendering the richness of the concept, in a systematic analysis of dimensions, levels, types, sources, roles and limitations of trust. Only some of the elements used in the analysis are new, but the architecture of how they are connected is. With some pointers...

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