Power imbalances don’t preclude trust

31st October 2015 |   Journal Of Sales Transformation

Saara Julkunen

Saara Julkunen: “Goal congruence is of key importance.”

Power imbalances between companies of different types and sizes do not prevent them from establishing successful relationships, as long as both organisations’ business strategies are compatible. The development of trust in business-to-business relationships calls for “goal congruence”, according to a recent University of Eastern Finland and Cranfield University study.

Authors, Mika Gabrielsson, Professor of International Business of the University of Eastern Finland Business School, Saara Julkunen, Deputy Head of UEF Business School and an assistant professor in International Sales, and Javier Marcos Cuevas, formerly Senior Lecturer in Sales Performance at Cranfield School of Management and now at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School claim the study sheds new light on power symmetry in B2B relationships.

Gabrielsson tells the Journal: “We find power does not play as key a role in the development of trust as previously thought. Some researchers say that power asymmetry has a negative effect on trust, while others claim exactly the opposite. Our study is the first in the world to overcome this inconsistency.

“First and foremost, the development of trust in business-to-business relationships calls for goal congruence. However, this is independent of how evenly power is divided between the organisations.”