Summary: In the past decade, issues of trust in inter- and intra-organisational relationships have been increasing in importance on the agendas of organisational scholars, legitimated by changes in the social structure of societies, economic exchange relations and organisational forms. Due to deterioration in the binding power of reciprocal obligations, of hierarchical relations and of social institutions relying on hierarchy to sanction deviant behaviour, other mechanisms seem to be required to support co-operative behaviour in interactions. Within firms, lateral relationships and alliances are growing in importance, while new linkages between firms are being formed to achieve and maintain competitive advantage in the marketplace. In network forms and alliances, organisational performance becomes increasingly dependent on trustful relations between individuals and groups. A related development is the globalisation and virtualisation of markets and relations within and between organisations. Emerging ‘new communities’ like virtual teams and global business networks may bring new problems and related trust requirements that permanently challenge current insights within the field.

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