Special Issue Call: Moving Trust to Contexts: towards new roads for trust research.

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An important objective of this special issue is to extend an invitation to scholars with an interest in trust to actively contribute to the advancement of trust research. This inaugural call for the Journal of Trust Studiesis focused on exploring the dynamic relationship between trust and context. Specifically, it seeks to draw attention to the fact that context impacts trust decisions, and conversely, trust shapes specific contexts. This is important in paying attention to the multiplicity of contexts that actually matter for trust research. In our assessment, this is why this research call is ripe for investigation.

We define trust as an important dimension of social interactions, embedded in a set of shared positive expectations and determined by respective norms of social structures (Omeihe, 2023; Omeihe and Omeihe, 2024). We observe that this definition is compatible with various definitions corresponding to the notion of confidence — the firm belief in the ability of a person, groups, or systems and positive knowledge of expectations. The comparative understanding of how trust varies depending on situations, social relationships, and institutions requires a great deal more information. As a result, the pace and scope of such research, in part, demand a widening of perspectives.

More promising is the fact that trust has achieved considerable progress over the years. As the study of trust continues to expand, attention shifts towards debates about whether to adopt a generally or universally applicable model of trust (etic) or a more locally contextual perspective (emic) (Zaheer and Zaheer, 2006; Saunders et al., 2010; Kwantes and Kuo, 2021; Omeihe, 2023). Similar to Li (2013), this dimensional debate also includes viewing trust as general in comparison to its global nature, versus the idea that trust is more situational rather than particularised, and perhaps as rational as opposed to being normative.

To make trust more salient, a particularly fruitful emphasis implies that research must make a concerted effort to explore how trust can be inferred from different perspectives, particularly in locating trust across geographies, new roads and clues from other disciplinary spaces. In this context, understanding trust across diverse contexts, and how people interact to shape the emergence and decline of trust, becomes increasingly important. This special issue builds on these debates to showcase the complexities and ordinariness of context in understanding trust constructs.

For those who have championed the acknowledgement of research aimed at enhancing our understanding of trust and contexts, this special issue call stands as a triumph, affirming the significance of challenging and refining our evolving contextual understanding of trust.

At the same time, the fact that context receives limited attention in trust research suggests that researchers might not be inherently inclined to wrestle with the multitude of contexts significant to trust research. This perspective is reasonable, underscoring the need for further efforts to enhance our understanding of the contextual aspects—both conceptual and empirical, as well as methodological—associated with trust.

Given these major issues, trust research still has a way to go before it can be considered fully developed or matured. Although it is very much the interaction between psychological and social dimensions, trust may not necessarily be just a passive response to stimuli from the context but, rather, a leap of faith—an active element of trust consideration (Mollering, 2006; 2015). Suggesting that scholarly interest in trust requires attention, we aim to focus on how trust opens critical gaps in the literature and the study of trust. To this end, the good news is that this special issue seeks to challenge scholars to pursue questions that explore new avenues by interrogating the where and when in the construction of how and why trust happens.

In contrast to many studies that have examined trust, this call draws attention to how trust is built, nurtured, and maintained across contexts, and whether it can be repaired when broken. Today, we observe the rampant prevalence of the opposite side of trust—distrust—and how trust has eroded within society. As Simmel (1990; pg. 178) mentions, ‘without the general trust that people have in each other, society itself would disintegrate.’ To much the same extent, this call seeks to embrace the measure of understanding unexplored issues within society that pertain to uncertainty, vulnerability, expectations, and reciprocity, which are particularly germane to trust research.

One effective approach to tackle this issue is to concentrate specifically on the environment in which trust is established. In other words, emphasis should be on offering explanations of trust that differ from existing knowledge. This approach ensures that our method captures trust in distinctive and meaningful ways, thereby contributing novel insights to the field.

On this basis, we are delighted to extend an invitation for submissions to be featured in the Journal of Trust Studies. Special issues play a unique role in the journal, allowing for the exploration and highlighting of specific, underrepresented themes that may not receive adequate coverage in regular issues. As such, this inaugural special issue aims to initiate and underscore how applying a contextual lens can capture the diversity of trust perspectives.

We are particularly interested in receiving high-quality submissions that seek to address pertinent issues concerning trust (including distrust), trust in various contexts, trust within emerging disciplines, pioneering methodologies for conducting trust research and measurement, and any exciting new areas that broaden the scope of trust studies—all of which align well with the journal’s remit.

Addressing questions in this special issue invites empirical and theoretical research that captures the following questions:

  • How is trust perceived across various societies and cultures?
  • How do unstable environments affect trusting decisions?
  • What is the influence of contexts on firms’ trusting strategies?
  • What role does trust play in social relationships?
  • What needs to be known about trust in societies characterised as low-trust environments?
  • How does cross-cultural research on trust define the way we see trust?
  • How is trust built and repaired across cultures?
  • What factors contribute to the development of trust in intercultural interactions?
  • How do cultural differences influence the development of trust in relationships?
  • Are there commonalities in the violation of trust across diverse cultural contexts?
  • What strategies can be effective in mitigating the breaking of trust in cross-cultural settings?
  • How does institution-based trust affect trust decisions?
  • How is trust developed, and what are the types of trust required across contexts?

Additionally, the special issue welcomes contributions that explore:

  • The role of technology and virtual interactions in shaping trust dynamics across cultures.
  • The impact of political, economic, and social factors on trust perceptions.
  • Strategies for fostering trust in multicultural and diverse organisational settings.
  • The influence of historical contexts on contemporary trust dynamics.
  • Comparative analysis of trust-building mechanisms in different cultural contexts.

Submissions to this special issue should align with the scope and mission of the Journal of Trust Studies.

Deadline and Submission Guidelines

Authors should submit their manuscripts between August 20, 2024, and August 31, 2024. Please send all special issue submissions to and   with the subject line ‘Special Issue for Journal of Trust Studies.

All submissions will undergo the journal’s double-blinded review process. Additionally, a paper development workshop for manuscripts advancing after the initial round of reviews is scheduled for late 2024. The purpose is to offer authors further insights into their manuscripts, following revisions based on the initial reviews and feedback. This aims to enhance and refine the potential value of the contribution. It’s important to note that presenting an author’s work is neither a requirement for nor a guarantee of the paper’s final acceptance.

More information

We welcome submissions from a wide range of contributors. Should you have any questions or require further information, please direct your inquiries to the special issue editor:

Kingsley O. Omeihe, University of the West of Scotland ()

References

  • Kwantes C. T. and Kuo B. C. H. (2021). Trust and trustworthiness across cultures: implications for societies and workplaces. Springer.
  • Li, P. P. (2013). Entrepreneurship as a New Context for Trust Research. In: Journal of Trust Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, 4.2013, p. 1-10.
  • Möllering, G. (2006). Trust: Reason, Routine, Reflexivity. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Möllering, G. (2015) The practical wisdom of trust: An interview with Bart Nooteboom, Journal of Trust Research, 5:2, 170-183, DOI:10.1080/21515581.2015.1070731.
  • Omeihe, K. O. (2023). Trust and Market Institutions in Africa: Exploring the Role of Trust-Building in African Entrepreneurship. (Palgrave Studies of Entrepreneurship in Africa). Palgrave Macmillan Cham. https://link.springer.com/book/9783031062155
  • Omeihe, K.O and Omeihe, I. (2024). The social regulation of inter-SME relations: Norms shaping SMEs relationships in Nigeria. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (forthcoming).
  • Saunders, M., Skinner, D., Dietz, G., Gillespie, N., and Lewicki, R. J. (Eds.) (2010). Organizational trust: A cultural perspective. (Cambridge Companions to anagement). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511763106.
  • Simmel, G. (1990).The Philosophy of Money. London: Routledge. 2nd edn. [German original, 1900]
  • Zaheer, S., and Zaheer, A. (2006). Trust across Borders. Journal of International Business Studies, 37(1), 21–29. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3875212
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