Sub-theme 02: (SWG) Authority, Prices and Trust: Within and Across Organizational Boundaries

Antoinette Weibel
University of Konstanz, Germany
Reinhard Bachmann
University of Surrey, UK
Thomas Mellewigt
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers

More than twenty years ago, Bradach and Eccles (1989) suggested analyzing control and coordination in and between organizations as complex phenomena where three different mechanisms are intertwined: authority, prices and trust.

Authority provides the power to hold people accountable for their actions and to influence directly what they do and how they do it. Prices – for example, in the form of performance contingent rewards or as transfer prices – are a powerful instrument to form expectations of exchange partners because they orient the exchange partners' behaviour towards predetermined objectives. Finally, trust is based on positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of another actor in a situation where the actions of this other party are neither completely determined by fiat nor clearly aligned by incentives (Rousseau et al., 1998; Zand, 1972).

While our understanding of authority, prices and trust has grown tremendously we still have not adequately tackled the call of Bradach and Eccles (1989) to analyze the interplay of these mechanisms. For example, in trust research a vivid debate has developed on whether trust and authority (in the form of formal control) are positively or negatively related (Bachmann, 2001; Mellewigt et al., 2007; Weibel, 2007). Yet, we still do not know enough about why trust and authority sometimes act as substitutes and sometimes as complements. Even less developed are discussions on how authority (in the form of power) and trust are related or how trust and prices may be inter-linked.

Against this background, the aim of this track is to encourage and inspire discussions on the combination of authority, prices and trust in and between organizations. We seek contributions that analyze the interaction effects among these mechanisms, disentangle conditions under which these combinations have positive rather than negative effects and help to understand why such relationships and dynamics evolve.


Examples of relevant questions to be addressed by this sub-theme include the following:

  • How are formal control and trust in the organization (or between organizations) related?
  • Which types of control and which control configurations are conducive to building trust in the organization (or between organizations)?
  • Can and, if so, in what way can formal controls repair trust in organizations?
  • What is the impact of regulations (standards, controls) at the individual level: do they make behaviour more trustworthy?
  • What are the effects of price formation on trust between exchange partners? Which type of price formation encourages or inhibits the development of trust within and across organizational boundaries?
  • What is the effect of performance-contingent rewards on trust? How does this type of reward enable or undermine cooperative trust-based relationships (between team members, teams or larger organizational units)?
  • In what ways can a façade of trust mask the deliberate use of power? And how are trust and power related in empowerment initiatives?
  • etc.



Bachmann, Reinhard (2001): 'Trust, power and control in trans-organizational relations.' Organization Studies, 22 (2), 337–365.
Bradach, Jeffrey L. & Robert G. Eccles (1989): 'Price, authority, and trust: from ideal types to plural forms.' Annual Sociological Review, 15, 97–118.
Mellewigt, Thomas, Anoop Madhok & Antoinette Weibel (2007): 'Trust and formal contracts in interorganizational relationships – substitutes and complements.' Managerial and Decision Economics, 28 (8), 833–847.
Rousseau, Denise M., Sim B. Sitkin, Ronald S. Burt & Colin F. Camerer (1998). 'Introduction to special topic forum: not so different after all: a cross-discipline view of trust.' Academy of Management Review, 23 (3), 393–404.
Weibel, Antoinette (2007): 'Formal control and trustworthiness – never the twain shall meet?' Group & Organization Management, 32 (4), 500–517.
Zand, Dale E. (1972): 'Trust and managerial problem solving.' Adminstrative Science Quarterly, 17 (2), 229–239.


Antoinette Weibel holds a Chair in Management at the University of Konstanz. She has published in journals such as 'Journal of Public Administration', 'Research and Theory', 'Group and Organization Management' and 'International Journal of Human Research Management'. She is President of FINT, the first international network of trust, and serves on the Editorial Board of 'JPART'.
Reinhard Bachmann holds a Chair in Strategy at the University of Surrey. He has published in journals such as 'Organization Studies', 'Cambridge Journal of Economics', 'British Journal of Sociology'. With Akbar Zaheer he has co-edited the 'Handbook of Trust Research'. He is Deputy Editor-in Chief of the 'of Trust Research' and serves on the Editorial Board of 'Organization Studies'.
Thomas Mellewigt holds the Deutsche Telekom Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Knowledge Management at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. His research interests focus issues of governance mechanisms and trust in strategic alliances. He has published in journals such as 'Strategic Management Journal', 'Journal of Applied Psychology', 'Journal of Retailing' and 'Journal of Business Venturing'.