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Trust under Pressure

Empirical Investigations of Trust and Trust Building in Uncertain Circumstances

Edited by Katinka Bijlsma-Frankema and Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis

This book challenges the current thinking on trust largely based on studies in stable contexts, by presenting new empirical studies of trust and trust building in a number of less stable, less institutionalized settings. These contexts are gaining in prominence given the globalization and virtualization of organizational relations, development of high velocity markets, and the growing importance of intangible resources.
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Chapter 1: Trust Under Pressure: Trust and Trust Building in Uncertain Circumstances

Katinka Bijlsma-Frankema and Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis


Katinka Bijlsma-Frankema and Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis INTRODUCTION Changes in the structure of societies, organizations, and exchange relationships have placed issues of trust solidly on the research agenda. Within organizations, changes to flatter organizations, participative leadership styles and virtual teams, for instance, have increased the complexity of direct supervision and hierarchical control (Sheppard and Tuschinsky 1996; Grey and Garsten 2001; Sydow 2001; Tyler 2003; Bijlsma and Koopman 2004). Between organizations, the increased number of inter-organizational and cross-border relationships, the greater importance of collaborative innovation and the increased importance of intangible resources in learning and innovation, have narrowed the basis for formal control and shifted the attention to trust as an alternative governance mechanism (Lane and Bachmann 2001; Nooteboom 2002). Trust is taken to signify and represent a coordinating mechanism supporting collaboration within uncertain environments (Reed 2001), that is in situations in which rational predictions are hard to make (Luhmann 1979; Barber 1983; Gambetta 1988; Lane 2001) and risk is present (Rousseau et al. 1998; Ring and van de Ven 1994; Dyer and Chu 2003). It is especially in those situations that trust becomes relevant, as it can enable a ‘leap of faith’ beyond that which reason alone would warrant (Lewis and Weigert 1985; Bradach and Eccles 1989). Building upon this conceptualization of trust, trust appears to be of great importance in relationships that are staged within environments where a solid basis for control – for instance in well-developed institutional structures, complete contracts and hierarchies – is lacking. Although some attention has been paid...

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