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Honesty and Trust in Economic Relationships

The paper “Honesty and Trust in Economic Relationships” by Laszlo Zsolnai in Management Research News (2004. No. 7, pp. 57–62) is a summary of his research project, which was part of the international research program “Honesty and Trust in the Light of Post-Socialist Transition” led by Janos Kornai at Collegium Budapest.

Zsolnai’s departure point is the observation that trust is not a homogeneous phenomenon. In economic relationships, different trust structures are at work, including distrust, negative trust and the absence of trust. Perceived honesty and competence co-determine the trust structures the agents might have when interacting with others. Trust structures influence the way agents are engaged in economic relationships. Honesty and competence should be developed to improve trust structures in economic relationships. Ethics is not a luxury; it is an indispensable means to fostering economic development.