Trust in Inter‐organizational Relations

Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer

in The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780199282944
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Trust in Inter‐organizational Relations

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Business Strategy



This article takes issue with the notion that calculativeness and not trust dominates inter-organizational relationships (IORs), and lays out a series of arguments in support of trust. While it principally addresses the role of trust in inter-organizational business relationships, much of what is covered here applies as well to relationships between organizations more generally, including those in the public and non-profit sectors. This article shows that trust is different from calculativeness in nature and that the concept of social embeddedness provides a more realistic perspective for analysing relationships between organizations. It is believed that a detailed examination of the role of trust in IORs from both the economic and sociological perspectives paves the way to a deeper understanding of the issues in this context. In turn, such understandings should help identify appropriate research questions to investigate better empirically the precise role of trust in IORs.

Keywords: calculativeness; trust; inter-organizational relationships; non-profit sectors; social embeddedness

Article.  9577 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Strategy

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