Organizational Trust and Interfirm Cooperation: An Examination of Horizontal Versus Vertical Alliances

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Over the past decade, trust has emerged as the central means of achieving cooperation in interorganizational relationships. Past empirical inquiries have largely focused on the role of trust within the context of vertical relations between channel members or service providers and their clients. Thus, little is known about the nature or the role of trust in horizontal relations. A number of interorganizational scholars suggest that the nature and the effect of behavioral norms such as trust may be widely different in horizontal versus vertical relationships. This study examines the effect of relationship form on organizational trust using data from a survey of 106 U.S. firms who have recently participated in either horizontal or vertical R&D alliances. The results of this survey indicate that participants in vertical alliances display higher levels of organizational trust than participants in horizontal alliances. In addition, while organizational trust enhances cooperation in vertical alliances, trust is unrelated to cooperation in horizontal alliances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalMarketing Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Alliances
  • Cooperation
  • Interorganizational relationships
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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