The Trust Dividend by Dr Mark Hollyoake, featured in The International Journal of Sales Transformation.
The strategic implications of trust building in B2B client relationships and the way towards enhancing them to create mutual economic value.
There is a noticeable lack of clarity around the construct of the trust dividend in the business to business (B2B) context. The thesis on which this article is based considers how trust building antecedents operate dynamically within a B2B relationship, and how they can be used proactively to help develop trusting relationships.
It deployed grounded theory qualitative research undertaken through a focus group, feedback workshops and 37 semi-structured interviews utilising critical incidents as units of analysis. The interviews were multi-level (inter-organisational, inter-team and interpersonal) between dyads.
The findings evidenced cognitive and affective dissonance occurring when relational intentions failed to meet expectations, engagement and experience that both sides intentionally set out. The thesis also evidenced B2B relationships being strategically driven from an organisational level through relational intent and the establishment of mutual relational benefits. Finally, the thesis addressed where trust resides in B2B relationships between both sides and levels. At organisational level, trust resides in the moral bonds that have achieved a cultural quality.
This thesis, therefore, contributes to the body of literature and theory in B2B trust between two organisations in a relational context in the following areas:
- Firstly, it contributes to understanding the importance of relationship intentions, as opposed to commitment, at an organisational level, highlighting the strategic mediating effect of the cross-dyad role through the relationship intentions. Additionally, the thesis highlights both commitment and communication as important antecedents of B2B relational trust at group/team and interpersonal level, as intention moves from intangible to tangible action between both sides of the relationship.
- Second, the study confirms the proposition made by social exchange theory that emotions and feelings play a role in business relationships, which involve social exchanges as evidenced in the role of affective trust expansionist/reductionist antecedents between both sides of the relational dyad. The theory of dissonance and consonance that incorporate two different groups of characteristics (affective/emotional and cognitive/rational) with a reductionist and/or expansionist effect on B2B relational trust is also developed.
- The third contribution identifies trust residing at organisational level, this is The Trust Dividend and is manifested through: moral bonds (cultural), action and behavioural conceptualisation, shaped through the development and signalling of relationship intentions. At an operations, group, team and interpersonal level, the contribution builds on structuration theory, demonstrating that trust resides at these levels as a manifestation of artefacts (relationship charter/mission/vision) standard norms (contracts, processes, systems and ways of working) and cognitive social stuff in the effective memories of the relationship agents/actors.
- Finally, a model of B2B relationship trust development contributes to academic research and new knowledge. It does this by developing an intention-ability-credibility-interdependence-mutual value outcomes–time framework that works across all organisational levels and between dyads. It builds on the definition of B2B trust and sheds light on how both sides of the relationship can work proactively to use trust to enhance the relationship.
If you already know that you need support with investigating potential failpoints within your strategic relationships, either from an internal or external perspective, please get in touch.
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