Trust, control, and value creation in strategic networks of SMEs

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This paper investigates the role of trust and control in networks of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with a focus on both their direct and interaction effects on value creation. To delve into the interplay between trust and control, we unpack control mechanisms into three different forms: output, process, and social control. Our hypotheses are tested on a sample of 58 Italian SME networks based on formal agreements. Results show that the competitiveness and sustainability of inter-firm networks require trust-based relationships among entrepreneurs. Additionally, the adoption of output control mechanisms reinforces the positive link between trust and value creation, whereas a substitution effect exists between trust and process control and, with limited significance, between trust and social control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-.N/A
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Control
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Strategic networks
  • Sustainable cooperation
  • Trust
  • Value creation


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