The Moderating Role of Trust in SME Owner/Managers' Decision-Making about Collaboration
This paper analyzes the impact of trust and trust agents on small to medium-sized enterprises' (SMEs) ability to derive benefits from it. The findings suggest that trust is a significant factor moderating the way SME owners/managers perceive the potential benefits of networks. These findings support earlier research that posited that networking provides an avenue for SME owners/managers to learn about potential business opportunities. However, Australian owner/managers that belong to networks do not demonstrate behavior and practices typical of either explorative or exploitative networks. Instead, the findings suggest that in addition to the typical networks, a third type of network should be added to the literature-embryo-explorative networks. Such networks describe SMEs owners/managers who attend network meetings and report on what they learn about new opportunities from the networks; however, they do not tend to engage in typical collaborative activities (such as joint marketing venture) as described in the networking literature. Embryo-explorative networks are defined as those that have yet to develop into the explorative networks-probably because there has been insufficient time to build trusting relationships required to foster collaborative ventures that involve some risks.
Journal of Small Business Management