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Handbook of Trust Research

Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer

The Handbook of Trust Research presents a timely and comprehensive account of the most important work undertaken in this lively and emerging field over the past ten to fifteen years. Presenting a broad range of approaches to issues on trust, the Handbook features 22 articles from a variety of disciplines on the study of trust in both organizational and societal contexts. With contributions from some of the most eminent names in the field of trust research, this international collaboration is an imaginative and informative reference tool to aid research in this engaging area for years to come.
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Chapter 14: Forms, Sources and Processes of Trust

Bart Nooteboom


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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