The moderating role of experience on the relationship between trust and performance of cooperating SMEs in transformation economies

To achieve successful cooperative inter-firm relationships, trust between the
partners is a key factor. As trust that is based on the self-commitment of the
partners to behave in a non-opportunistic way (maxim-based trust) takes time
to evolve and relies upon the cooperation experience of the partners, we expect
that the positive performance impact of maxim-based trust grows over time. The
purpose of this paper is to test the moderating effect of cooperation experience
on the relationship between maxim-based trust and performance in the context
of cooperating small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in two transformation
economies (Czech Republic and Slovenia): Based on a sample of 124 SMEs, a
moderated regression analysis reveals that trust and cooperation experience
impact positively on performance. However, we could not detect a moderated
relationship. We conclude that maxim-based trust may be an effective and
efficent coordinating mechanism in the dynamic context of cooperating SMEs in
transformation economies, but the absence of a moderating effect indicates that
firms do not seem to increase the effects of maxim-based trust over time.
Matthias FINK
Rainer Harms
Alexander Kessler
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