The changing importance of affective trust and cognitive trust across the relationship lifecycle: a study of business-to-business relationships
The purpose of this paper is to examine affective trust and cognitive trust and their effects on business relationship outcomes. Within a relationship marketing framework, the influence of affective trust and cognitive trust on the success of business relationships at the early and mature phases of the relationship lifecycle is examined. Both affective and cognitive forms of trust are demonstrated to be multidimensional constructs that indirectly influence relationship performance via the mediating variables commitment and liking.The development and use of five elements of trust to explain relationship performance extends existing understanding of relationship marketing. By combining five elements of trust (three cognitive and two affective) and testing them in two different relationship lifecycle phases, insights are generated into how a relationship can succeed. The model tested in this paper highlights the importance of affective trust in the early phase and cognitive trust in the mature phase of the relationship lifecycle. Further, the mediating roles of commitment and liking between trust and relationship performance are also developed. Hence, the research increases understanding of how relationships evolve, in particular the role of affective trust and cognitive trust in influencing relationship performance.The context of this research is business-to-business relationships in small and medium enterprises. A survey of 458 businesses people is used to evaluate both the early and mature relationship lifecycle phases. The data are analysed with structural equation modelling where the basic structural model testing is extended with multigroup analysis.