A West–East Perspective
Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter
Chapter 2: Culture versus Branch? Looking at Trust and Entrepreneurial Behaviour from a Cultural and Sectoral Perspective
Friederike Welter INTRODUCTION Trust is a phenomenon which has gained importance in many academic disciplines, for example, psychology, organisational theory, sociology, economic theory and business management. Entrepreneurship scholars have only recently started paying attention to trust-related issues in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behaviour. This chapter looks at the role trust plays in and for entrepreneurial behaviour in different environments, paying particular attention to some of the factors influencing trust. In discussing this question, the chapter asks whether trust is a sector-based phenomenon or a feature inherent in different (regional and/or national) cultures. Key topics include questions of how to explain the role of trust in business relationships, and the cultural and sectoral factors determining trust and differing trust levels. Empirically, the chapter draws on the overall results from different country studies, including both surveys and multiple case studies, which took place within an international research project on entrepreneurial behaviour and trust in West and Eastern Europe.1 However, there is a caveat. Although all empirical contributions within this project drew on a common concept of trust, differentiating between personal, collective and institutional trust, and employed similar instruments in researching trust empirically, crosscultural comparisons are fraught with the danger of levelling out countryspecific histories. With regard to trust, one must be aware that it is not only an ‘objective’ phenomenon, which we can measure and understand across cultures and countries. Trust, in particular its understanding and interpretation, is very much also socially constructed, indicating that in interpreting our empirical results from a cross-cultural...
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