Understanding and Managing Distrust and Trust to Build Better Business Relationships

Frank Nyamrunda, Susan Freeman, Christopher Medlin , Tamer Cavusgil

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This study explores the idea that distrust affects how trust is developed. Distrust is an expectation that a partner will behave opportunistically. Distrust may exhibit in any specific area of a business relationship. Although, the focal area of distrust may not be critical to the business relationship, the distrust will likely still shape relationship development. The study is of a qualitative nature. Analysis is undertaken of the initial phase of business relationship development between export-import managers in small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) where distrust and trust are key features. The analysis emphasises distrust/trust as an individual-level phenomenon, by acknowledging that individual managers and not
organizations distrust or trust their counterparts. The findings indicate that firms start a relationship with distrust and move towards trust. Also, the findings indicate that firms may continue to operate in the presence of both distrust and trust. Moreover, firms with a high distrust concerning one business function may still remain in a relationship. The scope of this study is restricted to Tanzanian SMEs. An extension of the research to other transitional economies is required to broaden the applicability of the conceptual model and for future testing. This study explores the idea that distrust is a construct orthogonal to trust. The study draws on psychological and sociological trust theory and a process perspective on distrust
and trust to develop a conceptual framework and provide an initial research direction.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2017
EventANZIBA 2017: Australia and New Zealand International Business Academy Conference - University of South Australia , Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 15 Feb 201717 Feb 2017


ConferenceANZIBA 2017


  • business relationships
  • distrust
  • trust


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