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Developing business school/SMEs collaboration: the role of trust

Fariba Darabi (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Murray Clark (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 8 June 2012




To investigate the initiation and development of effective business relationships, including knowledge transfer partnerships, with the primacy of trust as a key factor for collaborative development. Specifically, the aim was to explore Vangen and Huxham's (2003) notion of a “trust building loop” in the context of a Northern (UK) Business School and regional SMEs.


The methodological approach employed was the “General Analytic Induction” for the interpretation of the data. This was used to develop theory inductively from 23 in‐depth interviews.


The results emphasized that trust, especially trust in individuals, is fundamental to collaborative settings, from both practitioners’ and academic points of view. The study identified barriers and drivers to initiating trust‐based relationships and a model of initiating collaboration was suggested.

Practical implications

The benefits from the research were seen as facilitating the development of effective business relationships between local business schools and SMEs in their regions. This investigation provided pointers that might assist business schools to understand how to manage their relationships with this group of stakeholders (SMEs) to stimulate and improve engagement.


There has been minimal research works on building successful collaborations within the business schools context, which contributes to professional practice through collaboration between business schools and SMEs.



Darabi, F. and Clark, M. (2012), "Developing business school/SMEs collaboration: the role of trust", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 477-493.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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