Power symmetry and the development of trust in interdependent relationships: The mediating role of goal congruence

Javier Marcos Cuevas*, Saara Julkunen, Mika Gabrielsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Power in business-to-business relationships has been a core theme in industrial marketing research. However, diverging approaches have been used to study power resulting in inconsistent empirical findings. In this paper we explore the complexities of establishing, nurturing and sustaining cooperative relations, investigating the interplay between power symmetry, trust and goal congruence. We draw on the narrative approach in research to understand interorganizational relationships as shared meanings and how these evolve over time. We study two cases where organizations seek to achieve seamless interorganizational relationships but find themselves engaged in rather antagonistic or unpredictable positions. We show how goal congruence mediates the relationship between power symmetry or asymmetry, and the respective development of trust within organizational structures, processes and formal roles. We make a contribution to business-to-business marketing literature by showing that goal congruence becomes a prerequisite for the development of trust, irrespective of whether symmetrical power dependence predominates. We discuss how this novel insight may inform the strategies for developing interorganizational relationship in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Business-to-business relationships
  • Cooperation
  • Power
  • Trust


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