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Cooperation in Business Education: What about Trust?

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  • Hervé Chappert

    (MRM - Montpellier Research in Management - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - UM2 - Université Montpellier 2 - Sciences et Techniques - UPVD - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia - Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier (GSCM) - Montpellier Business School - UM - Université de Montpellier)

  • Thuy Seran

    (MRM - Montpellier Research in Management - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - UM2 - Université Montpellier 2 - Sciences et Techniques - UPVD - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia - Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier (GSCM) - Montpellier Business School - UM - Université de Montpellier)

  • Estelle Pellegrin-Boucher

    (MRM - Montpellier Research in Management - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - UM2 - Université Montpellier 2 - Sciences et Techniques - UPVD - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia - Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier (GSCM) - Montpellier Business School - UM - Université de Montpellier)

Abstract

These last years, universities are more likely to develop international programs. Some of them use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to offer international academic partnerships based on e-learning solutions. We study the case of a partnership between a Public European University and a Private African University. The model of teaching is Blended E-Learning in which courses are mainly taught by European professors via a Distance Education Platform and face-to-face seminars are made by African professors. The collaboration of two institutions (public and private), in an international context (one in France, one in Cameroon) with different cultures, based on a new technology project (e-learning), raises the problem of control of this change. We focus on the shape of alternative control based on trust. The originality and interest of this research are multiple. First, it allows us to confirm the characteristics of trust and distrust in a successful cooperation. Then, it integrates three different theoretical approaches: Inter-organizational strategies, interpersonal relationships and management control. Finally, the qualitative methodology we used in this case study shows different parts of a trust and distrust in project managers' relationships. This research aims at increase our knowledge of trust and distrust in inter-organizational relationships based on ICT projects. In this paper, we show how a French university establishes an international academic partnership with a private higher education establishment in Cameroon based partially on distant e-learning (Blended E-learning) and how the partnership develops between the two organizations. We define "e-learning" as the use of Information and Technology Communication (ICT) to facilitate and enhance learning (OCDE, 2005). We also draw upon the typology of e-learning modalities defined in the ELUE project (E-Learning and University Education) (ELUE, 2006). These forms may take place completely on a distance (E-learning), partially on a distance (Blended E-Learning) or in classroom based lessons (Web-Enhanced Courses). Universities are facing a strong demand for development of teaching methods in the domain of e-learning (Garrot, Psillaki, & Rochhia, 2009) and at the same time, as a consequence of the evaluations of the universities, including the Evaluation Agency for Research and Higher Education (AERES, 2013), the universities should aim at creating international partnerships. The partnership in question is examined in terms of inter-organizational relations and especially inter-organizational control. The examination includes control among partners and network control (Caglio & Ditillo, 2008) which will allow us to analyze the three control mechanisms: the market, the hierarchy and the alternative control. This last control mechanism includes an aspect of trust, which we are particularly interested in this case study. In the context of university cooperation in e-learning, there are situations where the exchange is very uncertain, and where it remains unstable and risky despite of the partner's good intentions. This configuration corresponds to the work of Langfield-Smith & Smith (2003) and van der Meer-Kooistra & Vosselman (2000) which proposes an alternative control based primarily on trust. This trust is supported by exchanges and personal contacts, interactive communication and, in general, through informal and social forms of control. Coletti, Sedatole, & Towry (2005) studied the impact of control systems on the trust level through experimental analysis, and showed that control systems can actually increase the level of trust between the partners. The control system should be robust enough to generate cooperation between the collaborators. The results also suggest that the increased trust has a positive effect on future cooperation between the partners (Coletti et al., 2005).

Suggested Citation

  • Hervé Chappert & Thuy Seran & Estelle Pellegrin-Boucher, 2014. "Cooperation in Business Education: What about Trust?," Post-Print hal-02050247, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02050247
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.umontpellier.fr/hal-02050247
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