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The globalized nature of modern organizations presents new and intimidating challenges for effective relationship building. Organizations and their employees are increasingly being asked to manage unfamiliar relationships with unfamiliar parties. These relationships not only involve working across different national cultures, but also dealing with different organizational cultures, different professional cultures and even different internal constituencies. Managing such differences demands trust. This book brings together research findings on organizational trust-building across cultures. Established trust scholars from around the world consider the development and maintenance of trust between, for example, management consultants and their clients, senior international managers from different nationalities, different internal organizational groupings during times of change, international joint ventures, and service suppliers and the local communities they serve. These studies, set in a wide variety of national settings, are an important resource for academics, students and practitioners who wish to know more about the nature of cross-cultural trust-building in organizations.
The conclusion summarizes the key findings presented within each section of the book, identifying the emerging patterns and themes across the conceptual contributions and empirical studies. These are considered in relation to our two initial questions. First, is there a universally applicable model of trust and trust development [etic], or do people from varying cultures understand and enact trust differently [emic]? And second, how can Party A from Culture #1 develop a trust relationship with Party B from Culture #2? We then highlight the implications of these patterns and themes for practitioners, and point to directions for future research.
We began this book with three vignettes that we believe highlight both the complexity and ordinariness of cross-cultural trust building in today's globalized business world. In the first vignette, we considered an Iranian businesswoman who is negotiating on behalf of her firm with male representatives from a German alliance partner; we particularly focused on the cultural implications for trust both within her own firm and between her firm and the German alliance partner. In the second vignette, we charted the trust relationship between a Dutch and an Irish employee representative, both engineers, working in and representing employees in Holland and England respectively, for an Anglo-Dutch firm during a period of considerable change, which culminated in the firm being bought by an Indian company.