University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 29.3.2017 The development and management of interpersonal trust in a business network in health, exercise and wellbeing markets (Hakanen)

Start date: Mar 29, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Mar 29, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora, Gamma hall

Mila Hakanen
Mila Hakanen

M.Sc. (Econ) Mila Hakanen defends her doctoral dissertation in Management ”The development and management of interpersonal trust in a business network in health, exercise and wellbeing markets". Opponent Professor Vesa Harmaakorpi (Lappeenranta University of Technology LUT) and custos Professor Tuomo Takala (University of Jyväskylä).


The aim of this dissertation is to explore the development, management and measurement of interpersonal trust in the context of a business network. More specifically, the focus is building and managing trust in the early stages of networking by examining how interpersonal trust forms in business networks and anchors relationships, and in addition, how the level of interpersonal trust could be measured. The data for this study is a qualitative, and collected from the business network that operates in the health, exercise and wellbeing sector. This study consists of three main parts: an introductory essay that consists of the research task, conceptual framework and methodological choices, four articles that present different angles to the studied phenomenon, and a final part including a discussion and the conclusions.

This interdisciplinary study takes part in discussions of leadership and psychology, more precisely, the areas of interpersonal trust and business networking. The key contributions of this study are in the trust-building dimensions for the management of interpersonal trust.  More holistic view is needed for the management of interpersonal trust at the business network level. Interpersonal trust building is a slow process that can also easily be discontinued as a result of blockers. Respect and fairness can be seen as important enablers for interpersonal trust, and in addition, active and open communication is needed.  The enablers and blockers were found in the early formation of interpersonal trust and are divided into seven areas: earlier positive experiences, trustworthy actions, communication, personality, environment, atmosphere and trust at the network level. The findings of this study highlight the meaning of different dimensions in the development and management of interpersonal trust, such as leadership skills, communication, actions and commonalities, the environment and atmosphere, but also dimensions that are difficult to control. This study points out that it is essential to create performance metrics that concentrate on aspects of business collaboration, such as trust, and suggest the following performance metrics for trust: frequency of interaction, and quality of interaction and communication. Finally, the findings revealed a strong connection between trust and high-performing teams.

Keywords: trust, interpersonal trust, distrust, communication, networking, business networks, management of interpersonal trust, Finland, high-performing teams, social capital