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Trust in supply chains, meanings, determinants and demonstrations: A qualitative study in an emerging market context

Hamida Skandrani (Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia)
Abdelfattah Triki (Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia)
Boudour Baratli (Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologique de Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




This study aims to understand trust meanings, determinants and manifestations in supply chains (SCs) operating in an emerging market context. It also aims to improve our knowledge about the role of trust and the mechanisms by which it operates in establishing and maintaining relationships between firms in SCs.


This study adopts an explanatory approach. In‐depth interviews with 30 key informants were conducted. Informants were chief executive officers or marketing managers in firms operating in different economic sectors. Firms varied in size and ranged from small businesses to large companies.


The study results showed that trust could evolve through four building processes: calculative‐based process, predictive‐based process, intention‐based process, and identification‐based process and that trust meanings and determinants vary with the trust form. Moreover, the study revealed that determinants related to the trustor also have an influence on the trust form and its evolving process. On the other hand, it was found that risk taking, preference for the partner, fewer formalized controls, offers of assistance and psychological security are the main manifestations of trust. This supports the point of view of the twofold facets of trust: perceived trustworthiness and trusting behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the complexity of the trust phenomenon, and the research approach adopted, the findings may not be generally applicable. Further quantitative studies are needed to test the proposed framework.

Practical implications

Given the globalisation of markets and the widespread increase in international collaborative partnerships, the study sheds some light on how Tunisian managers conceive trust, which factors they perceive most important to develop trust, and how they behave to signal their trust towards a partner. These insights can be very helpful for foreign investors who are willing to invest in this emerging market and to implement a supply chain management approach with Tunisian partners.


This paper fulfils an identified need, not only to better understand the phenomenon of trust in SCs, but also to carry out more studies in situ. Indeed, the rapid development of the global economy has made it more important than ever before for managers from different cultures to understand how their business partners conceive and manage the interpersonal aspects of business relationships.



Skandrani, H., Triki, A. and Baratli, B. (2011), "Trust in supply chains, meanings, determinants and demonstrations: A qualitative study in an emerging market context", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 391-409.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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