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Title: The role of trust at the inter-personal and inter-organisational levels in business relationships
Author: Ashnai, Bahar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 0929
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This study investigated and distinguished between two different aspects of trust (i.e. inter-personal and inter-organisationl) in business relationships. Reviewing the extant literature, a model of business relationships was developed, bridging social exchange theory and transaction cost economics, in addition to using some ideas from the resource-based view. This model was built on an overall framework consisting of three main groups of business relationship characteristics, (1) attitudes (inter-personal and inter-organisational trust) (2) behaviours (commitment, information sharing and relationship-specific investments) and (3) outcomes (financial and non-economic (soft) performance). The overall framework suggested that the attitudinal characteristics affect behavioural characteristics, which consequently affect relationship outcomes. Furthermore, the role of the other party’s opportunistic behaviour as an antecedent of trust aspects was suggested in the model. In line with the overall framework, a basic model was developed with sixteen hypotheses. The model was extended considering dependence as a moderator, and suggesting two additional hypotheses.A questionnaire was designed to measure the characteristics in the model. Data collected from 331 informants (i.e. middle or senior managers knowledgeable about supplier relationships) was used to empirically test the model, using structural equation modeling. The analysis was performed testing the model fit and its underlying hypotheses, additionally using a control variable (the relationship length) and multiple-group analysis (controlling for the size of the company). Inter-personal trust and inter-organisational trust were found to be two distinct constructs (by means of implementing several techniques testing discriminant validity). The results supported the impact of inter-personal trust on inter-organisational trust, inter-personal trust impacting on commitment and information sharing while inter-organisational trust impacting on commitment, information sharing and relationship-specific investments (all in a positive way). The positive effect of behavioural characteristics on relationship outcomes was supported, commitment and relationship-specific investment influencing both financial and non-economic performance, while information sharing influencing non-economic performance. Relationship-specific investments impact positively on commitment, and financial performance impacts positively on non-economic performance. The moderating effects were supported; the positive effect of inter-organisational trust on relationship-specific investments and the positive effect of relationship-specific investments on commitment decrease as dependence increases. The negative effect of the other party’s opportunistic behaviour on trust dimensions was found, while its expected negative effect on relationship-specific investments was not supported in the whole sample. A mixture modeling approach was performed to explore this result. The negative effect was supported in a number of responses, as expected. However, surprisingly a positive effect was also found in a group of responses that were characterised by having relatively longer relationships with the supplier and observing a higher degree of opportunistic behaviour. Additionally relationship-specific investments had a stronger effect on its consequences within this group. Potential explanations for the findings with regard to this group were introduced. The research contributions and implications were also discussed.
Supervisor: Naude, Peter; Henneberg, Stephan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business-to-Business Marketing ; Business Relationships ; Inter-Personal Trust ; Inter- Organisational Trust ; Structural Equation Modeling ; Mixture Modeling ; Attitude-Behaviour-Outcome Framework