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The Trust Paradox: A Survey of Economic Inquiries Into the Nature of Trust and Trustworthiness

Listed author(s):
  • Harvey James

    (University of Missouri)

This paper examines the concepts of trust and trustworthiness in the context of a one-sided variation of the prisoner's dilemma, and it evaluates four different categories of solutions to the PD problem: changing player preferences, enforcing explicit contracts, establishing implicit contracts, and repeating the interaction of the players. Because these solutions rely on the creation of incentives to induce cooperation, this paper articulates a paradox of trust in that if one trusts another because there are incentives for the other to be trustworthy, then the vulnerability to exploitation is removed which gives trust its very meaning. The paper explores the implications of trust when understood to exist at two levels -- one in which there are incentives to trust, and the other in which appropriate incentives are absent.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0202001.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 04 Feb 2002
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0202001
Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 28; figures: 4. Figures embedded as tables in document
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Edward J Green & Robert H Porter, 1997. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1147, David K. Levine.
  2. Neilson, William S., 1999. "The economics of favors," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 387-397, July.
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  5. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
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  9. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  10. Robert Gibbons, 1998. "Incentives in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 6695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lorenz, Edward, 1999. "Trust, Contract and Economic Cooperation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 301-315, May.
  12. Craswell, Richard, 1993. "On the Uses of "Trust": Comment [Calculativeness, Trust, and Economic Organization]," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 487-500, April.
  13. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
  14. Oliver D. Hart, 1983. "Optimal Labour Contracts under Asymmetric Information: An Introduction," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 3-35.
  15. Levinthal, Daniel, 1988. "A survey of agency models of organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 153-185, March.
  16. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  17. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
  18. Becker, Gary S, 1993. "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 385-409, June.
  19. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  20. Valley, Kathleen L. & Moag, Joseph & Bazerman, Max H., 1998. "'A matter of trust':: Effects of communication on the efficiency and distribution of outcomes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 211-238, February.
  21. Harvey S. James Jr, 2000. "Separating contract from governance," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 47-61.
  22. Huang, Peter H & Wu, Ho-Mou, 1994. "More Order without More Law: A Theory of Social Norms and Organizational Cultures," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 390-406, October.
  23. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
  24. Ross, Stephen A, 1973. "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 134-139, May.
  25. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
  26. Tullock, Gordon, 1999. "Non-prisoner's dilemma," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 455-458, July.
  27. Huck, Steffen, 1998. "Trust, Treason, and Trials: An Example of How the Evolution of Preferences Can Be Driven by Legal Institutions," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 44-60, April.
  28. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  29. Lyons, Bruce R & Mehta, Judith, 1997. "Contracts, Opportunism and Trust: Self-Interest and Social Orientation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(2), pages 239-257, March.
  30. Williamson, Oliver E, 1983. "Credible Commitments: Using Hostages to Support Exchange," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 519-540, September.
  31. Williamson, Oliver E, 1993. "Calculativeness, Trust, and Economic Organization," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 453-486, April.
  32. Frank, Bjorn & Schulze, Gunther G., 2000. "Does economics make citizens corrupt?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 101-113, September.
  33. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-755, September.
  34. Craig D. Parks & Lorne G. Hulbert, 1995. "High And Low Trusters' Responses To Fear in a Payoff Matrix," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 39(4), pages 718-730, December.
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