Werner Raub, born in Essen, Germany, in 1953. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Professor of Theoretical Sociology at Utrecht University.
Fellow (1 September 2001 – 30 June 2002)
My research at NIAS focused on mechanisms of trust and co-operation in social and economic relations and on how the partners involved in these relations mitigate opportunistic behaviour. I developed models on how ‘social embeddedness’ affects trust and co-operation. Assuming incentive-guided (‘rational’) behaviour, trust can be based on past experiences with a partner and trust can be built on possibilities for sanctioning untrustworthy behaviour through one’s own or third-party sanctions. These two mechanisms are labeled learning and control. Learning and control can operate at two different levels: at the dyadic level of the relation between a trustor and a trustee and at the network level of the relations of trustor and trustee with third parties. For example, a business firm purchasing complex hardware and taylor-made software from a supplier of IT products must trust the supplier to deliver reasonable quality at a particular time. This trust can be based not only on a carefully specified contract but also on previous experiences of the buyer with the supplier and on the supplier’s anticipation that prompt delivery of high quality goods will ensure future business with the buyer, while a delivery delay or delivery of inferior quality would induce the buyer to implement sanctions such as delayed payment or terminating the relationship. Trust can also be based on information about the supplier the buyer receives from other customers or on the supplier’s anticipation that his behaviour will become known to other buyers and will thus affect his reputation. Various publications written and prepared during my fellowship period, including an edited volume of a leading yearbook in the field of organisation studies, present theoretical models of trust through social embeddedness as well as empirical applications and tests using data from vignette studies as well as survey data on inter-firm relations.