I begin my talk with an explanation of the basic trust game, and use it to show why a market economy cannot properly function without a substantial amount of trust among its members. My talk then turns to the following question: what generates trust, and what can be done in order to increase trust relations among people within a community? The answer is contained in a word: reciprocity. First, I elucidate the idea of reciprocity, which is completely different from that of exchange of equivalents. Second, drawing from recent experimental evidence, I will show how and under which conditions reciprocity can generate trust. Finally, I indicate some applications of the reciprocity strategy for business. I will make explicit the link existing between trust and connective capital, which nowadays is considered the most relevant factor of success for firms in a post-Taylorist age.
Stefano Zamagni is a professor of economics at the University of Bologna and is vice director of the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins University. Zamagni is the author of Microeconomic Theory (1987), History of Economic Thought (1995 and 2005), Living in the Global Society (1997), Economics: A European Text (2002), Multiculturalism and Identity (2002), Relational Complexity and Economic Behaviour (2002), Civil Economy (2004), and A Civil Economic Theory of the Cooperative Firm (2005).