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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 2: Rational, Institutional and Active Trust: Just Do It!?

Guido Möllering


Guido Möllering INTRODUCTION Confucius, 551–479 BC, already held the view that trust is a precondition and basis for all worthwhile social relations (Hann 1968). This insight is popular again, but while we can easily relate to it from everyday experience, we still find it difficult to grasp the phenomenon of trust in abstract terms. The question of what trust is and whether it may be amenable to management can only be assessed on the basis of a differentiated concept of trust, showing different sides of the phenomenon instead of taking in everything at once. Hence I distinguish three ideal types of trust, each representing corresponding parts of the trust literature. Particular attention shall be given to the concept of active trust and the leap of faith that all trust requires as these have been underplayed in previous work. First, though, I will look at the ideal type of rational trust as a prudent choice based on the perceived trustworthiness of the trustee which is paradigmatic for much of the trust literature to date. Second, the ideal type of institutional trust will be discussed, using phenomenological and neoinstitutional sociology to suggest a more unusual explanation of trust that rests on taken-forgrantedness in the trustor’s natural attitude towards social interactions. Third, given the limitations of the first two ideal types, active trust as a highly demanding experimental and reflexive form of trust is introduced to highlight challenges for trust typical for the ostensibly short-lived and fast-changing social relations...

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