A West–East Perspective
Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter
Chapter 12: Trust as a Matter of Experiences? Findings from the ICT Sector of East Germany and Poland
Henning Nuissl and Anna Schwarz THE PROBLEM: POST-SOCIALIST TRANSFORMATION, ENTREPRENEURIAL CO-OPERATION AND TRUST The recent transformation of former centrally planned economies has not only brought about an economic environment totally different from what firms and economic agents had been adapted to before, it has also meant that economic links and relationships have deteriorated, the creation of which usually requires several years. On the other hand, however, co-operative entrepreneurial relationships are essential to the economic success of transformation economies. This applies in particular to the regionally embedded SMEs, since they (can) build the fabric of regional economic networks so much hoped for. Hence, in post-socialist economies it is particularly important that both the surviving as well as the recently set up firms seek and find (new) partners. This especially holds for East Germany, where the economic environment has changed even more suddenly and radically than in any other post-socialist country, resulting in a constellation of ‘torn networks’ (Albach 1993). It is a well-known fact that the building of co-operative entrepreneurial relationships first requires some degree of trust between the business partners – anybody who engages in such relationships must generally be aware of the possibility that a respective partner will not stick to previous agreements. There are of course remedies against opportunistic behaviour, mainly contracts. Also, partners can gather information on each other, which enables them better to anticipate the further actions of their counterparts, in other words to predict whether their counterparts will be trustworthy or not. However, no matter how...
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