Factors Affecting the Level of Trust and Commitment in Supply Chain Relationships


  • Ik-Whan G. Kwon,

    1. Ik-Whan G. Kwon is professor and director in the Consortium for Supply Chain Management Studies in the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University in St. Louis.
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  • Taewon Suh

    1. Taewon Suh is assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration at Texas State University-San Marcos in San Marcos, Texas.
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Trust is a critical factor fostering commitment among supply chain partners. The presence of trust improves measurably the chance of successful supply chain performance. A lack of trust among supply chain partners often results in inefficient and ineffective performance as the transaction costs (verification, inspections and certifications of their trading partners) mount. Although the literature often mentions a relationship between trust and commitment, there is a lack of empirical testing of such relationship in the supply context. This study attempts to fill the gap between the theoretical argument and empirical testing. Results using a comprehensive survey of supply chain practitioners indicate that a firm's trust in its supply chain partner is highly associated with both sides' specific asset investments (positively) and behavioral uncertainty (negatively). It is also found that information sharing reduces the level of behavioral uncertainty, which, in turn, improves the level of trust. A partner's reputation in the market has a strong positive impact on the trust-building process, whereas a partner's perceived conflict creates a strong negative impact on trust. Finally, the level of commitment is strongly related to the level of trust. Policy implications are discussed.