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In Should We Trust Grand Bazaar Carpet Sellers(and vice versa)?, Jean-François Roberge and Roy J. Lewicki develop the “TRUst-rElationship” (TRUE) model which essentially contributes towards the differentiation of various types of relationships that can be established between sellers and customers. These relationships are mainly based on the concept of trustworthiness, its perception and prediction from the contrary viewpoints. Furthermore, in accordance with the model, proposed by the researchers, it becomes apparent how the dynamic of the negotiation process gradually changes while adjusting to the given conditions and developing relationships between merchants and customers. The outcome of the abovementioned process results in a significant changing of the trust level which, in its turn, leads to further changes during the negotiation.

The “TRUst-rElationship” (TRUE) model contributes towards a better understanding of an interaction between customers and sellers as it is partly based on several works of different prominent researchers, such as Roy J. Lewicki and William A. Donohue, who studied the processes of communication and trust in relationships. Therefore, the aforementioned model provides a framework for understanding of the overall evolution in terms of trustworthiness.

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On the whole, the TRUE model evaluates the approach of distinct sides of the negotiation towards this process. It mainly bases on the perception of both sides of their relationship in terms of the chosen communicative style, the evolution of trust towards each other, the essential changes in the behavioral pattern of both sides, which, eventually, may lead to the establishment of trustworthy business relations.

According to Roberge and Lewicki, the differentiation of diverse types of negotiation relationships results in the emergence of four essential ones which are friendly partners, adversaries, working partners and, ultimately, trustworthy partners. The crucial distinction between these four types lies within the changing degree of trust which can be divided, in its turn, into two primary types. The “calculus-based trust” (CBT) and “identity-based trust” (IBT) identify the behavioral pattern of contrary viewpoints by measuring its degree and comparing to both sides accordingly. Thus, trustworthy partners and adversaries represent the entirely distinct approaches while having the lowest and highest degrees of CBT and IBT, correspondingly. Meanwhile, working partners and friendly partners tend to possess one of the types of trust as the highest one and the other as the lowest one. Consequently, this distinction complicates the negotiation process by contributing towards the emergence of the ambiguous communication between two parties. Although it has a considerable impact on the perceptions of both seller and customer, it will scarcely remain the same in the course of the negotiation process. Therefore, it is highly significant to highlight the dynamic nature of relationships which can transform from one type into another in accordance with certain conditions which affect the negotiation process to a considerable degree.

The universality of the TRUE model allows applying it not only to the given or similar trading scenario, but also to various situations which imply the implementation of the negotiation process in different contexts. It can be realized due to the occurrence of the same concepts during any negotiating, especially the concept of trust. Moreover, such process is comprised of the same dynamics which adjusts to various surrounding conditions accordingly. However, in order to understand the overall process and the significance of trust within it, it is crucial to identify the meaning of trust.

Various researchers define the concept of trust in a slightly different way; however, there is a commonly accepted definition which implies that “trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.”  The abovementioned positive expectations are usually derived from one’s own experience, beliefs and perception of the other party’s actions or decisions. According to Lewicki, the necessity to establish a trustworthy relationship is mainly caused by the human mutual dependence. Nevertheless, the presence of similar interests does not guarantee the expected cooperation.

The aforementioned interdependence inevitably involves the risk. Therefore, both parties tend to secure themselves by attempting to predict and evaluate the further actions of the opposite side. As it was already stated, these predictions mainly concern the behavioral pattern by analyzing its trustworthiness in an intuitive manner. However, there are two essential kinds of criteria which contribute vastly towards the facilitation of this process. The first criterion is related to the perception of “cost-benefit” relationship which leads to CBT. It also involves the fear of being punished and desire to obtain the reward. Therefore, it focuses on the possible outcome from the establishment a trustworthy relationship. It evaluates the benefit in terms of the implemented efforts and the overall relevance of this “cost-benefit” bond.

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The second criterion concerns IBT in terms of perceived similarity and commonality which imply the evaluation of the interests, desires, goals, values and self-identification of the other party and its comparison with the own ones. The similarity of these essential concepts contributes towards the emergence of a lasting and effective mutual understanding. Consequently, such relationships are mainly based on trust.

However, any type of business relations, regardless of its economic orientation, involves interpersonal relationships to a considerable degree. Therefore, it is crucial to point out that it is grounded on two contradictory concepts. Affiliation represents the need to interact with others and be accepted, while autonomy tends to highlight the desire to maintain certain independence during the communication. This discrepant nature of relationships emphasizes the dynamics of the negotiation process, whereas the two distinctive parties tend to adjust to the requirements of the other party while trying to maintain their autonomy at the same time. This process is affected by each decision or even action conducted by any party which results in changing into one of the four relationship types, described by the TRUE model.

The most significant feature of the abovementioned relationships is the degree of trust which accompanies any interaction. There is a certain level of trust pertaining to both sides of the negotiation process at the initial stage of the relationship’s evolution. Nonetheless, it is not the final one; whereas the relationships develop, they cause some crucial changes in the trust levels which, in turn, affect the overall interaction between diverse parties. Thus, the categorization in terms of CBT and IBT degrees also emphasizes the paradoxical essence of the aforementioned types of relationships.

The TRUE model allows not only identifying and assessing the chosen type of the relationships, but also contributes towards understanding the further actions of the parties within the scope of their negotiating strategies. This process can be implemented in two manners which are distributive or competitive along with integrative or collaborative.  Thus, the paradoxical relationships, such as friendly partners and working partners, exist in the ambiguous atmosphere of competitiveness and collaboration which considerably complicates the prediction from both sides of the negotiation process. Meanwhile, the non-paradoxical relationships, such as trustworthy partners and adversaries, imply the highest or the lowest degrees of CBT and IBT which causes the emergence of the negotiation process based on mutual interest in obtaining the maximum benefit from the dealings. Consequently, it leads to a better outcome achieved via the enhanced effectiveness of negotiating; meanwhile, it scarcely depends on the changes of trust levels. Therefore, trust is also shaped by the primordial goals of both parties which means it can be left aside in terms of common aspirations.

To conclude, there are specific trust-building techniques which can be implemented in order to improve the outcome. On the whole, they tend to elevate the levels of CBT and IBT, thereby, affect the relationship and its evolution.Both criteria play a highly significant role in establishing a lasting and effective cooperation based on mutual understanding and trust. Thus, the negotiation process becomes beneficial for both parties.

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