The paper aims at examining the hypothesis that the trust-oriented rules in the institutional environment and the specific internal antecedents of trust enlarge the range of stability of hybrid governance structures. Expanding on a previous analytical framework (Martino, 2007; Fritz et al., 2008), the study focuses on the contracting basis of hybrids and the centrality of trust to the existence of hybrids structures (Hofstede, 2006). Mènard and Valceschini (2005) show that the emergence hybrids characterizes the change of Agri-Food sector. Trust is a complex concept addressed under different analytical views. Scholars seem to often interpret trust in terms of rules for social interaction. Thus, under a transaction cost perspective, the trust issue can also be conceived in terms of the relationship between the institutional environment and governance structures, emphasizing the fact that trust-oriented rules tend to modify the parameters of the basic economic calculus (Williamson, 1993). Deakin et al. (2001) have pointed out that compliance with terms of contracts is central to trust, but also that contract adherence is tempered by flexibility beyond and outside the contract. On the other hand, the institutional forces constraints and channel contractual behaviour opening options for cooperative behaviour. Our analysis recognizes that trust-oriented rules can be identified in the institutional environment and that trust could emerge as a consequence of the influences of specific factors acting within given governance structures as antecedents of trust. We namely identify as sources of trust three basic factors acting as antecedents to trust within a hybrid structure: information exchange; control; risk aversion. These antecedents are thought of as exogenous variables determining the emergence of trust, which in turn is conceived here as an endogenous variable (Fritz et al., 2008). The analytical extent of our conjecture is intended to contribute to the understanding of the variety of the organizational forms in the AgriFood System (Saccomandi, 1998). The study also includes a case study designed to provide an example of the analytical framework proposed. The paper is organized as follows. In the paragraph 2 the objective of the study is presented with a brief discussion of the method adopted. In the paragraph 3 are illustrated the conceptual premises of the study: the diffusion of the hybrid structure in the Agri-Food chains and the concept of trust. Then the roles of the institutional environment and of the trust conditional to governance structure (Fritz et al., 2008) are examined. The thesis of the study is then proposed and it is introduced a tentative classification of the outcomes of the interaction between the institutional environment and the factors of the conditional trust. In the paragraph 4 it is presented the brief case study which concern a retailer involved in a system of relationship both at national and local level, entailing long term supply contracts. In the last paragraph are presented the final remarks of the study and the limits. Potential future research could address research questions related to the influence of the institutional environment rules, while a more extensive data collection is requested in order to test the prediction proposed.
Keywords: Trust, hybrid forms, contract, stability Corresponding
Jel Code: Codes: D2, L2, Q1