Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska



Joseph A. Hamm

Date of this Version



Published as: Joseph A. Hamm, Lesa Hoffman, Alan J. Tomkins & Brian H. Bornstein (2016): On the influence of trust in predicting rural land owner cooperation with natural resource management institutions, Journal of Trust Research, Volume 6, Issue 1 (2016), pp 37-62.



Copyright © 2016 Peter Ping Li. Published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Contemporary natural resource management (NRM) emphasizes the role of the public in general and land owners in particular as voluntary participants in the process. Understanding the role of trust in voluntary cooperation is therefore critical, but the current state of the relevant literature is such that it fails to systematically address a few important issues. This inquiry sought to address these issues by presenting and testing a model of land owners’ trust in and cooperation with a NRM institution. The model hypothesizes that the six major drivers of trust in this context (dispositional trust, care, competence, confidence, procedural fairness and salient values similarity) are distinct but correlated constructs that drive cooperation and whose effects are moderated by the sophistication (relevant knowledge and experience) of the trustor. The results provide complicated partial support for the hypotheses and suggest that (1) although the six constructs are separable, their effects on cooperation are not as distinct as expected; (2) the most important consideration for cooperation may, in fact, be a broader evaluation – potentially a willingness to be vulnerable to the target and (3) if sophistication is an important moderator of the effect of trust, it is likely to require only a low level of general sophistication about the target institution to encourage trustors to rely most strongly on their perceptions of the institution itself.