Trust in the programme: an exploration of trust dynamics within rural group-based support programmes

Barry Quinn, Lynsey McKitterick, Angela Tregear, Rodney McAdam

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Publicly-funded programmes of business support are important vehicles for rural development, and over the last two decades, group-based models of business support have become popular, in which dedicated advisors work with small firms in groups, rather than one-to-one mentoring. A fundamental goal of such programmes is to foster enhanced inter-firm knowledge exchange and learning, and improved firm resilience and innovation, through the development of collective trust amongst participants,. Although many studies have investigated the evolution of trust, including in a rural context, to date most research has focused either on the macro-institutional level, or the micro-personal level, with relatively little exploration of how meso-level collective trust may be encouraged amongst groups of participants in rural business support programmes. This paper addresses the gap by exploring the development of collective trust within two group-based rural business support programmes in Northern Ireland. The study reveals that programme design features and the interpersonal style of advisors combined to shape clients' trust in the programmes and their sponsoring institutions, as well as influencing the degrees of goodwill and camaraderie within the client groups themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue numberDecember 2021
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been carried out as part of the LOCFOOD project funded through the INTERREG IVC Territorial Co-operation Programme (2012–2014) ( 1281R4 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Trust
  • rural
  • support programmes
  • agri-food
  • small business


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