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I rarely questioned the notion of trust, but during my professional practicum in NGO development in Romania, I began to notice a cultural distinction. It seemed to me Americans tend to trust first, until there is a reason not to, whereas Romanians tend to not trust at first until there is a reason to. It is from this premise that I began to explore the topic further. My primary research question was – what role does trust play in attempts to form collaborative relationships among NGOs? The three sub-questions were – what evidence is there for considering Romania’s culture to be low trust? What motivates NGOs to overcome barriers of low trust and enter into collaborative relationships? And finally, does collaboration change the level of trust? Data was gathered from multiple sources, including a survey of 12 NGOs in the city of Baia Mare, Romania. A literature review of Romania’s history, civil society’s place in that context, and existing research served as a basis for formulating the research questions and evaluating the relationship between trust and collaborative relationships in Romania. The main conclusion drawn is that the formation of trust is a process that occurs in successful collaborative relationships. Among local NGOs in Baia Mare, perhaps the most notable observation is that even if the formation of trust appears to have been initiated, sparked by common interests for considering collaborative relationships, a perceived lack of time (and perhaps apathy) may fail to ignite further action; the threshold of trust may take longer to reach; and a reluctance to share may be more familiar than collaboration. The significance of my research is its contribution to the understanding of how the formation of trust is affected by culture and the role that it plays in efforts to foster collaboration. These factors cannot be ignored or assumed, and are of particular importance to international actors working in Romania’s NGO field.


Community Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology