Research Output

Trust and West African exporting SME networks

  Purpose This paper makes a case for the examination of trust based on the notion that trust differs across contexts. This is important as a study of this nature provides a basis for uncovering new aspects of trust and SME networks. To date most of the literature on trust and network relationships reveal a paucity of studies about West African traders. This paper attempts to address this gap by investigate the role of trust in West African SME networks.

Design/methodology/approach This paper draws on an interpretivist approach in response to calls for more qualitative research on entrepreneurship. The empirical component is focused on multiple case studies of 42 SME owner/managers drawn through a purposive sampling. The choice of the selected respondents was aimed at comparing perceptions and experiences as it relates to their particular environment. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews held at cross border markets. Thematic analysis was used in analysing, identifying and reporting patterns within data. This was essential as it ensured the interpretation of various aspects of the data in rich detail. Lastly, the consideration for limiting bias was minimised through reflexivity of being on guard about the certain preconceptions and assumptions introduce into the study. This involved daily introspections, note keeping, observing market relationships and informal discussions.

Findings : Central to this paper, is its valuable contribution which highlights the importance of trust in the activities of West African SME networks. In this light, networks were found to be a source of complementary resources for SMEs as they were developed based on ties to family/kinship, religion, ethnicity and trade associations. Thus, SME owner/managers were found to gain a plethora of benefits such as access to credit, market information, and dispute resolution. In this vein, this paper provides a sophisticated contextual approach to uncovering trust and supports the growing importance of African research on SME networks.

Practical Implications: The practical implication of this paper demonstrates that SMEs were willing to draw on trust-based network relationships in their exporting activities, especially as it relates to contexts characterised by weak and inefficient formal institutions. The paper also indicates that SMEs operating within developing market contexts would benefit from the use of networks in bridging their psychic distance. Hence, the role of

  • Date:

    29 August 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    658 General management

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Amoako, I. O., Omeihe, K. O., Gustafsson, V., & Omeihe, I. (in press). Trust and West African exporting SME networks


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