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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 3: Formation of Trust in German–Mexican Business Relations

Torsten M. Ku_hlmann


39 against opportunistic behaviour. In other words: he acts as if the cooperating partner can only choose from a limited set of cooperation-friendly actions in the future (Luhmann 2000). Contributions can be of tangible or intangible nature: investments, transfer of know-how, granting of exclusive rights, provision of personnel, and so on. These trust-based contributions are risky because the dangers, which have been trustingly ignored, still exist (Dyer and Chu 2000). Risk describes the potential of negative outcomes the trustor will experience when he places his fate into the trustee’s hands and the latter turns out to be untrustworthy. Risk not only nurtures the need for trust, but also results from trust. When trusting, external risks are merely substituted by internal security about the partner’s future trustworthiness. The proposed conceptualization of trust recognizes that the referent of trust may vary (Currall and Inkpen 2002; Dyer and Chu 2000). Trust can be placed in an individual or in another organization as a whole. Following this specification, person-oriented trust in a business relationship describes the extent to which a member of one firm trusts his counterpart in the cooperating company. In contrast, organization-oriented trust represent’s the individual’s trust toward the partner firm as an entity. In international/intercultural business cooperation mutual trust is of particular importance. In an international context, explicit contractual agreements tend to lose efficiency as a functional equivalent of trust because different legal systems are involved. Contracts in cross-border business cooperation are more complicated and less exhaustive. It is...

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