Whom Would You Choose? The Role of Trust in New Venture Partner Choice

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration


G. T. Lumpkin


New venture, New venture partner, Trust, Trustworthiness

Subject Categories

Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations


What is the role of trust in new venture partner choice? To answer this question, this study uses a human capital framework to investigate the relative importance of the factors of trustworthiness (i.e. ability, benevolence and integrity) in the decision to choose a new venture partner. A second query is, how does familiarity of a potential partner contribute to the choice? This study also explores the moderating influences of propensity to trust, gender and race in new venture partner decision policies. This research uses conjoint analysis and hierarchical linear modeling techniques to capture and decompose more than 3700 new venture partner choice evaluations which are nested in a sample of 116 CPAs. The findings of this study suggest that trust is important in the choice of new venture partner. Specifically, the results show that among this study's sample, the factors of trustworthiness are more important than familiarity. Also found was that integrity is more important than ability and benevolence in new venture partner choice and that propensity to trust moderates the choice. This research offers several contributions. First, this study delves into the underexplored area of new venture team formation and is one of the first to investigate the role of trust in this context. Using a human capital framework, the conceptualization of this concept is extended to include trustworthiness. Methodologically, this study is one of the first to use conjoint analysis in the study of new venture team formation and in the study of trust. Finally, implications for theory, practice and future research are discussed


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