The purpose of this paper is to identify the interplay between the characteristics of trustee and trustor in trust formation at the initial stage of a relationship in the B2B context.Design/methodology/approachThe study was experimental. A situation was simulated in which sales managers choose prospective customers on whom his or her company should concentrate after entering the new market. A total of 108 managers participated in the study.FindingsThe results indicate that during the pre-relationship stage salespeople declared trust toward a prospective customer despite having no previous interactions with the other party. Salespeople start the trust-development process by gathering clues about the trustworthiness of the potential partner organization. The cognitive information provided to salespeople impacts interpersonal trust to a greater extent than effective communication. This influence is moderated by trustor trust propensity. There is no difference in the type of information about a trustor when it comes to organizational reliance.Originality/valueThis paper provides a new insight into research on trust in interorganizational relationships as the authors adopted the perspective of the supplier who is most frequently perceived as a trustee, rather than a trustor. It directs attention to the pre-relationship stage, which precedes the interaction that may lead to a relationship developing but also links the object of trust (trustee) with the subject of trust (trustor) and integrates two separate approaches to the ascendance of trust with its multi-dimensional and multi-level nature. Moreover, an experimental design that is rare in research on business relationships was implemented.
IMP Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 22, 2018
Keywords: Business-to-business interactions; Initial trust; Trustee characteristics; Trustor propensity to trust
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