Chapter 5: Trust Definition: A Content Meta-Analysis
5. Trust deﬁnition: a content meta-analysis 1. INTRODUCTION A feature common to all of the disciplines that have studied the concept of trust is the lack of a shared, clear deﬁnition of this construct. Shapiro (1987: 625) has clearly synthesized this situation maintaining that although trust has been conceptualized in numerous analyses, the result has been a ‘confusing potpourri of deﬁnitions applied to a host of units and levels of analysis’. McAllister (1995: 709) and Andaleeb (1992: 7) share this view and the latter asserts: ‘an examination of social sciences literature suggests that there is some conceptual confusion regarding the construct’. Considering the great variety of deﬁnitions, Mutti (1987: 224) states ‘the multiplicity of meanings ascribed to the concept of trust in social analysis is disconcerting. Undoubtedly this regrettable state of aﬀairs is the outcome of general historical neglect, as if by eﬀect of a bizarre selfreﬂective mechanism, social science does not trust in the possibility of relevantly reﬂecting upon trust’.1 The above-mentioned misalignment has caused a good deal of ‘communication’ problems among scholars who allegedly refer to the same construct while actually referring to considerably diﬀerent trust concepts and typologies. Thus, the academic discussion is quite sterile, since it is vitiated by diﬀerent objects of analysis that inevitably determine diﬀerent (and at times conﬂicting) interpretative proposals. When the debated issue is clearly expounded, the nature of the discussion and the stances are easily comprehensible; yet, when the...
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