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Trust: from the Philosophical to the Commercial

Tallant, Jonathan; Donati, Donatella

Trust: from the Philosophical to the Commercial Thumbnail


Donatella Donati


© 2019, The Author(s). This is a paper about trust, with a specific focus on the ways in which trust is investigated in the business literature and the commercial sector. The lens through which the topic is approached is distinctively philosophical. We use philosophical tools to demonstrate the paucity of some of the accounts of trust that are given in the business and management literature, as well as the empirically informed literature that has flowed from them. We close with a discussion of some work on trust drawn from the commercial sector that would, as we shall demonstrate, benefit from a clearer understanding of the nature of trust. We take this to be important. Trust is a key moral and ethical component of transactional relationships. Without a clear understanding of the notion, we will be missing a central concept in our attempts to understand the commercial world that we inhabit. The paper proceeds in four parts. In the first part of the paper we introduce some reasonably standard philosophical distinctions between different kinds of trust, as well as saying a little more about our methods. In the second, we demonstrate that a reasonably widely held account of trust in the business and management literature fails to capture the nuance reflected by the philosophical literature. On the basis of this, in the third section, we suggest that various pieces of empirical work require reassessment. In the final part of the paper we explore some non-academic discussions of trust drawn from the commercial sector arguing that, there too, we require a more precise understanding of trust. In short, though, our overarching argument is simply this: if we can give a more precise analysis of trust, it follows that both our empirical research and current commercial activity can be improved.


Tallant, J., & Donati, D. (2020). Trust: from the Philosophical to the Commercial. Philosophy of Management, 19(1), 3-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 6, 2019
Publication Date Mar 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2019
Journal Philosophy of Management
Print ISSN 1740-3812
Electronic ISSN 2052-9597
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 3-19
Public URL
Publisher URL


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