Toward restoring violated trust: exploring the antecedents of trust in business-to-business relationships
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Trust has been described as “perhaps the single most powerful relationship marketing tool available to a company” (Berry, 1995, p. 242). Trust enjoys wide acceptance among scholars as a key facilitator of inter-organisational relationship development; however, the construct begs deeper exploration within a framework of both existing and emerging dimensions of trust. Successful relationship development demands an understanding of what drives the propensity to trust between organisations. Organisations that are oblivious to these evaluative criteria risk relationship decay with partner organisations. The six most salient antecedents of trust within contemporary trust literature, explored both conceptually and empirically, have been identified as satisfaction, communication, competence, shared values, benevolence and integrity. Additionally, co-creation is investigated as an emergent antecedent of trust in business-to-business relationships. The relationship between these independent variables and trust are investigated by adopting multiple regression analysis. The moderating influence of business experience on the relationship between significant independent variables and trust is also explored. Findings from this study indicate that co-creation and integrity positively affect trust within a business-to-business environment. The results also reveal that business experience has a moderating effect on the relationship between co-creation and trust. The longer-term, more involved nature of business-to-business relationships precludes flawless execution of all service encounters. Service failure is a common occurrence within inter-organisational relationships and the trust enjoyed between partners can suffer as a consequence. An exploration of the antecedents of trust within business-to-business relationships serves as the first step toward developing sound trust recovery mechanisms in the event of a violation of trust.