Trust over time in exchange relationships: Meta-analysis and theory



A common premise in prior research is that trust increases over time in relationships. Through a meta-analysis of 39 studies, we find that the bivariate correlation between trust and relationship duration (1) is on average positive and small, and (2) varies significantly across studies indicating the presence of unobserved moderators. We therefore build a theoretical framework to specify four different mechanisms—initial bias correction, change in relationship value, identification, and trust-based selection—that may affect the development of trust. We then argue that the relative strength of these mechanisms should influence whether trust increases, remains constant, or decreases over time. © 2013 The Authors. Strategic Management Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.