Inter-personal trust transfer through network embeddedness in an organizational context: A longitudinal study

Jinhan Jiao, Zuzana Sasovova, Hendrik Aalbers, Allard van Riel


This study examines network embeddedness as an antecedent of trust formation, and trust transfer as a process. Trust transfer refers to the process in which trust is transferred through relations and structures among actors in a network and thus contributes to the formation of new trust relationships. Although some research was done to investigate the relationship between network embeddedness and trust formation, and some scholars already shed light on trust formation as a dynamic process by observing trust network evolution, little is known about how trust is transferred through network embeddedness to establish new trust relationships. First, we focus on how trust is transferred on three levels in a friendship network. We argue that trust is transferable through reciprocity of friendship (on the dyadic level), transitivity (a triadic structure linked via common third parties), and structural equivalence (a network-level phenomenon referring to the similarity of two actors regarding their friendship ties to everyone else in the network). Second, we argue that the status (represented by advice in-degree) has a positive moderating effect in the process. A longitudinal network study carried out in a consultancy organization in the Netherlands provides strong evidence that reciprocity, transitivity, and structural equivalence in a friendship network predict trust formation. Besides, the moderating effects of status are partially supported. The presented insights contribute to a better understanding of how trust formation occurs within organizations as we provide a dynamic model of trust transfer, which takes the interplay between multiple networks (friendship and advice) into consideration.

← Schedule