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When Does Trust Matter? Antecedents and Contingent Effects of Supervisee Trust on Performance in Selling New Products in China and the United States

Kwaku Atuahene-Gima and Haiyang Li
Journal of Marketing
Vol. 66, No. 3 (Jul., 2002), pp. 61-81
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3203455
Page Count: 21
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When Does Trust Matter? Antecedents and Contingent Effects of Supervisee Trust on Performance in Selling New Products in China and the United States
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Abstract

There is a strong normative bias toward the inherent value of trust among both marketing researchers and practitioners. Yet there is little empirical evidence of a positive impact of trust on performance. Indeed, scholars suggest that the sources of trust may provide opportunities for its abuse. Following this line of thinking, the authors investigate the dual roles of sales controls and supervisor behaviors as antecedents of salespeople's belief in the benevolence of the supervisor (i.e., supervisee trust). The authors then examine these antecedents as moderators of the relationship between supervisee trust and sales performance in the context of selling new products. Data on field salespeople from high-technology firms in China and the United States suggest that factors such as supervisor accessibility engender supervisee trust but do not necessarily enhance its impact on sales performance. In the Chinese sample, supervisee trust enhances sales performance when output control is adopted, when the supervisor has a higher level of achievement orientation style, and when the salesperson has higher role ambiguity. Furthermore, the results suggest that the supervisee trust-sales performance relationship is negative when supervisor accessibility is high. With the exception of achievement orientation and supervisor accessibility, these effects are negative or nonexistent in the U.S. sample. The authors discuss theoretical and practical implications of the study's findings.

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