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Who Trusts Who?: The Role of Individual and Organizational Level in Determining the Nature of Inter-Organizational Trust

Risto Seppänen
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Risto Seppänen: School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland

International Journal of Knowledge-Based Organizations (IJKBO), 2014, vol. 4, issue 1, 17-37

Abstract: Previous research on the nature of trust in an organizational context provided somewhat controversial and ambiguous results. There are both conceptual and operational difficulties in exploring this intuitively individual-level phenomenon at organizational and inter-organizational levels. The fundamental question of where trust resides in inter-organizational relationships remains unresolved. This qualitative study focuses on inter-organizational trust in dyadic business relationships. The phenomenon is approached both from the concept of the trustor and the trustee. The results suggest that the trusting party is not the organization itself, but the individuals who constitute it. Instead, the ultimate object of trust in inter-organizational settings is both individual boundary-spanners, and the organization.

Date: 2014
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