Unrequited: Asymmetry in interorganizational trust

Melissa E. Graebner, Fabrice Lumineau, Darcy Fudge Kamal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many studies of interorganizational relationships assume that trust between organizations is symmetric. In this essay, we explore the origins of this assumption and examine relevant quantitative and qualitative evidence from the literatures on strategy, marketing, supply chain management, and information systems. We conclude that no systematic evidence currently exists to support the assumption that interorganizational trust is typically symmetric. We explore how the possibility of asymmetry complicates interpretation of previous research on the effects of interorganizational trust. We encourage further research to identify conditions under which symmetry is likely, and offer a variety of strategies that scholars may use to deal with potential asymmetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-374
Number of pages13
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • acquisitions
  • alliances
  • interorganizational relations
  • supply chains
  • topics and perspectives
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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