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Towards a cross‐cultural typology of trust in B2B food trade

Gert Jan Hofstede (Social Science Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands)
Melanie Fritz (Department for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany)
Maurizio Canavari (Department of Agricultural Economics and Engineering (DEIAgra), Alma Mater Studiorum‐Universita` of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Elsje Oosterkamp (Research Area Markets and Chains, Agricultural Economics Research Institute ( LEI ), Wageningen UR, Wageningen, The Netherlands)
Gert‐jan van Sprundel (WU Information Technology Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 6 July 2010



This paper aims to develop a hierarchical typology of trust elements for business‐to‐business trade among European companies in the food sector.


The paper integrates desk research literature study and a qualitative survey of food industry companies. An extensive literature review about inter‐organizational trust lays a foundation for designing a draft typology based on previous studies, with special attention paid to the influence of culture. Fine‐tuning and validation of the typology is achieved through an exploratory field study based on 18 qualitative in‐depth interviews with key informants in five EU countries, involving practitioners from the fresh fruit and vegetable, grain, meat and olive supply chains.


A detailed typology of trust is developed. Although it is highly specific to the food industry, it is designed to be neutral to culture and sector, thus allowing the identification of differences in culture when dealing with trust building elements in different sectors in the food supply chain.

Research limitations/implications

Since the buyer's perspective is adopted in this paper, further research is needed to validate the typology on the seller side. The typology developed here must also be tested in practice, for instance within a descriptive research quantitative study, aimed at quantifying the relative importance of the different trust elements.

Practical implications

The typology stimulates the consideration of cross‐cultural or cross‐sector differences in the salience of trust attributes and its construction process confirms that reputation management is an extremely important determinant of success or failure. It can serve as a checklist for any company that is interested in improving its relationships with suppliers or buyers.


The paper adds to the body of knowledge about inter‐organizational trust, providing researchers with a useful tool for conducting experimental research on trust creation mechanisms.



Jan Hofstede, G., Fritz, M., Canavari, M., Oosterkamp, E. and van Sprundel, G. (2010), "Towards a cross‐cultural typology of trust in B2B food trade", British Food Journal, Vol. 112 No. 7, pp. 671-687.



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