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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.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Strategic Organization in 2018 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1177/1476127018808465.

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