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Trust and Learning in International Strategic Alliances

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Although trust has been given much attention in alliance literature as an explanatory factor,little research has been devoted to defining and operationalizing trust. Trust is more or less seenas a magic ingredient, poorly understood much like the concept of luck, and usually attributed expost; successful alliances seem to involve trust; unsuccessful alliances do not. The extantliterature has treated trust as a residual term for the complex social-psychological processesnecessary for social action to occur. Since trust is a social phenomenon, both national culture andinstitutional arrangements have an impact on trust and the perception of trust. Hence, this paperdevelops a conceptual model, based on a structural equation approach, for empirically exploringthe role played by trust in the process of learning in international strategic alliances. The modeldistinguishes between pre-alliance formation factors and post-alliance formation factors in anattempt to respond to calls for research examining the evolution of trust and its impact oninternational collaborative relationships. The determinants of trust in international strategicalliances are examined and a series of testable propositions are derived to guide future empiricalinvestigation.Keywords: Trust, Strategic Alliances, Learning

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Bo Bernhard Nielsen

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