Despite third parties being important conduits of trust, little is known about the mechanisms and conditions relevant to their influence on trust formation and partner selection in interfirm relationships. In this study, we experimentally examine how varying levels of third-party information shape the trust that buyer managers have in a potential supplier firm, and how this trust affects subsequent selection decisions. In addition, we investigate when this information is most influential, by accounting for the moderating impact of the focal firm's own prior experience. As expected, both neutral and favorable third-party information are able to elicit trust, yet with different effects on competence and goodwill trusting beliefs. These trusting beliefs, in turn, are positively associated with the likelihood of the supplier to be selected. Notably, we find third-party effects over and above the effects resulting from own prior experience. Overall, by investigating differences with regard to the origin and content of information and the specific type of trust, this study advances a more nuanced understanding of the partner selection process.

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Accounting, Organizations and Society
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Reusen, E. (Evelien), & Stouthuysen, K. (Kristof). (2019). Trust transfer and partner selection in interfirm relationships. Accounting, Organizations and Society. doi:10.1016/j.aos.2019.101081