Temporal dynamics of trust in ongoing inter-organizational relationships
This paper reports the results of a qualitative study undertaken to understand the nature of trust and its consequences for both suppliers and buyers in short term (relatively new) and long term (older/more mature) relationships in inter-organizational contexts. Scholars have recently pointed out the importance of research that investigates the temporal characteristics and dynamics of trust in inter-organizational studies. Our paper responds to this call by indentifying the changing nature of the level of trust as the buyer–supplier relationship matures. Our findings contribute to sparse and conflicting previous research on the relationship between length of partnership and perceptions of trust, types of dark side consequences of trusting relationships, and reasons buyers and suppliers continue or terminate low/no-trust associations. Specifically, we illustrate that buyers and suppliers draw on substantially different metaphors for understanding the nature of trust in long and short term exchange relationships. Suppliers see marked differences in trust with long term versus short term exchange partners, while buyers see little or no difference. Suppliers and buyers also appear to have different conceptions of how trust is nested (or not) within the broader economic and/or personal relationship. Through our inductive model, we elaborate several types of betrayal and disappointment, distinguish several factors that lead suppliers and buyers to stay in relationships with partners they don't trust, and identify key issues that topple untrusting relationships into terminated relationships.