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The influence of culture on trust in B2B banking relationships

Roudaina Houjeir (Abu Dhabi Men’s College, Abu Dhabi,United Arab Emirates)
Ross Brennan (Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of culture generally, and Arab culture in particular, for the development of trust in business-to-business (B2B) banking relationships.


Qualitative fieldwork was employed, gathering in-depth interview data from bankers and their business clients in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In total, 80 relationships between bankers and business clients were investigated.


The development of trusting relationships between bankers and clients is affected by the cultural origins of the relationship partners. Strongly held religious beliefs, and loyalty to family, tribe and nation, lead to strong affect-based trust between bankers and clients from Arab culture. Cognitive-based trust is more characteristic of UAE banker/client relationships that involve partners from outside the Arab world.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted in the UAE. Additional tests in other Arab countries would be valuable. The qualitative nature of the study means that statistical generalizations cannot be drawn.

Practical implications

The cultural origins of banking relationship managers are of considerable importance when seeking to develop relationships of trust with business banking clients in the Arab world.


This substantial, qualitative study of banker relationships with business clients throws considerable light on the importance of culture as an antecedent to trust in B2B banking relationships.



Houjeir, R. and Brennan, R. (2017), "The influence of culture on trust in B2B banking relationships", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 495-515.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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