The importance of trust vis-a-vis reliance in business relationships: some international findings

Zhizhong Jiang, SC Henneberg, P Naude

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate the levels of trust and reliance in different international business markets. The paper aims to obtain empirical evidence regarding the importance of relational aspects (trust) vis-a-vis organisational ones (reliance) for building long-term business relationships. Design/methodology/approach - This is an exploratory study to examine trust and reliance in the manufacturing and construction industries of four countries: UK, India, Pakistan, and Poland. Statistical analysis is based on a data sample of 501 responses collected through a survey of buying and selling relationships. Findings - Although varying across countries, stable relationships with high levels of both trust and reliance exist widely in business markets. Exclusively trust-based business relationships, i.e. those which are mainly driven by individual-level aspects, are very rare. However, both trust and reliance are significant for building relationships with long-term perspectives. Practical implications - Managers in firms who want to build advantageous and sustainable business relationships need to be able to discern the difference between trust in people on the one hand, and reliance on the partner firms on the other. This research shows that to maintain sustainable relationships, firms should not only focus their relational capabilities on enhancing reliance aspects with their business partners, but also aim to build good levels of trust in the interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-339
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Business relationships
  • Trust
  • International business
  • Reliance


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