How Social Integration Leverages Interpersonal and Brand Trust
Beck, Joshua T.
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Practitioners believe that "creating or expanding business relationships is not about selling - it's about establishing trust" (Myatt 2012, p. 1), yet practitioners have little guidance about whether sources of trust (brands and employees) are substitutable and when each is most effective for creating and expanding business relationships. Thus, this research investigates the simultaneous effects of interpersonal and brand trust and identifies factors that leverage the effectiveness of each. Across four studies that include longitudinal survey, experiment, and field study methods, the author demonstrates that interpersonal and brand trust can substitute. The marginal effectiveness of brand trust reduces as interpersonal trust increases, and vice versa. Given that they can substitute, it is critical to understand when each is most effective. Exploring factors that moderate the effectiveness of interpersonal and brand trust, the author finds that socially integrative factors--age, interdependence, community values, and residential stability--enhance the effectiveness of interpersonal trust on performance while reducing the effectiveness of brand trust on performance. By exploring the effects of social integration on customer relationship performance, the author integrates theories from economics, sociology, and social psychology to understand the effects of demographic shifts that are fundamentally changing the customer base within the U.S. and thereby altering how firms can effectively develop customer relationships.