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Trust and Entrepreneurship

A West–East Perspective

Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter

In this innovative book, international scholars investigate trust and its role in relation to the entrepreneurial behaviour of small firms across a variety of institutional and cultural settings. The contributors draw on original empirical material from a number of West European and East European countries, highlighting the role of culture and the significance of a multi-disciplinary approach in researching trust and its importance in entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 5: A Societal View: The Institutionalism of Trust

Bernhard Lageman


5. A societal view: the institutionalisation of trust Bernhard Lageman INTRODUCTION If we use social categories in economics we always have to solve a translation problem and a problem of understanding. ‘Trust’ seems to be a category that does not fit well into the conceptual patterns of conventional economic theory. Even if institutional economics offer a better framework for the integration of ‘trust’, this remains difficult. In order to model, operationalise and measure trust, one has to reduce it to a simple category that cannot reflect the complexities of real social life (cf., for instance, Yamagichi and Yamagichi 1994). However, analysing trust within the framework of institutional economics delivers useful insights into the phenomenon of trust. The same applies to the application of trust concepts in experimental economics. Nevertheless, in working with strongly reduced trust categories in economics, the task of how to connect economic trust concepts to a greater social context remains challenging. As is clear from the literature and also the contributions to this volume, trust is a complex phenomenon. Different authors define trust in many, sometimes even contradictory, ways. It would be useless to look for an essential meaning of trust because there is no essential meaning (Hardin 1999, p. 24). Therefore, this contribution mainly follows the distinction made by Höhmann and Welter (2004; Welter et al. 2004), that is, differentiating between personal, collective and institutional trust.1 Personal trust is defined as an attitude of an individual towards another person which assumes that the second person...

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