The Collective-Relational Paradox in Consumer Trust Judgments: Framework and Propositions

Jagdip Singh, Case Western Reserve University
Rama K. Jayanti, Cleveland State University
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Rarely in its long history has the marketing discipline faced a paradox of such magnitude and clarity as it faces today in local and global markets. On a firm-consumer level, the focus on building relationships, deepening loyalty, and fostering consumer trust in the firm’s commitment to serving customers has never been more intense or clear. Consider, for instance, the Marketing Science Institute’s recognition of the five topics of top tier priority for 2002-2004. Each of these topics appears to relate one way or another to better understanding, and strengthening the relationship between the firm and its customers. Yet, at a collective level the general distrust of business motivations, open cynicism and widespread belief that business in general and marketing in particular will opportunistically exploit society’s trust if given a chance has never been more palpable or real. Stories of this Acrisis of confidence@ abound in the popular press (Business Week, June 2002; Chain Store Age, May 2002). Additionally, polling data demonstrates the declining public trust in Corporate America (Golin/Harris Poll 2002; Booth- Harris Trust Monitor, 2001), general loss of public faith in institutions such as medicine (Schlesinger 2002), government (Chanley, Rudolph, and Rahn 2000), and business (Nye 1997). That collective distrust can coexist in an era when firms are redoubling their efforts to build relational trust is a paradox that has thus far remained below the radar screen of researchers and pracitioners alike. As such, the collective-relational paradox of trust is little understood; even less recognized are its implications for consumers and firms in general, and individual firm-consumer relationships in particular.
[ to cite ]:
Jagdip Singh and Rama K. Jayanti (2004) ,"The Collective-Relational Paradox in Consumer Trust Judgments: Framework and Propositions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 343-344.