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Determinants of trust in a service provider: the moderating role of length of relationship

Keith S. Coulter (Assistant Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Management, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA)
Robin A. Coulter (Associate Professor, Department of Marketing, School of Business Administration, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 1 February 2002



Trust is a key factor in the establishment of long‐term relationships between service representatives and their customers. Prior research has documented that both “person‐related” (e.g. empathy, politeness and customer/service representative similarity) and “offer‐related” (customization, competence, reliability and promptness) service representative characteristics have an impact on trust. However, the relative importance of these characteristics, and in some cases the direction of their relationships with trust, has varied across studies. In this paper, we posit a contingency model of trust, suggesting that the effects of the above variables on trust are moderated by length of the customer/service provider relationship. Our model is tested in a business‐to‐business context by means of a mail survey involving 677 small business owners. The small business owners provided data about their relationships with their insurance industry service providers. Our results demonstrate how service representatives and firms can work toward the establishment of trust with their clients under varying market conditions.



Coulter, K.S. and Coulter, R.A. (2002), "Determinants of trust in a service provider: the moderating role of length of relationship", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 35-50.




Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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