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Paper info: The Importance of Cultural Adaptation within Business Relationships for the Trust Development


The Importance of Cultural Adaptation within Business Relationships for the Trust Development


Maria Ivanova and Marina Weck

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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The importance of trust in establishing and sustaining long-term business relationships has been convincingly stressed in the academic literature. Trust is seen as even more critical in intercultural business relationships between firms across national borders as these relationships imply greater uncertainty and risks originated essentially from differences in business culture. It has also been acknowledged, that business culture has an impact on the behaviour of firms and individuals, who are the actors within business relationships.
Development of trust within a business relationship occurs through the interpersonal interaction process. Nevertheless interpersonal interaction is more effective when parties have a better understanding and a higher level of acceptance of each other‟s culture. Thus, developing trust within inter-cultural business relationships may initially require cultural adaptation. By cultural adaptation within business relationships we mean the process of adjusting to culturally dissimilar backgrounds and behaviours of partner firms resulted from their societal norms held by their individuals in order to maintain the relationship development between these partners.
In conjunction to these issues, the overall aim of the research is to reveal how trust develops between partner firms in the context of intercultural business relationships and how understanding of the business culture of a partner firm and adaptation to it can be a driving force for the beginning and maintaining of trust development process with that partner. The study employs a multiple case study strategy and semi-structured interviews with relationship managers in selected case companies as the primary method of data gathering.
Key words: cultural adaptation, trust development, business relationship, Russia, Finland