The important role of institutional support actors in building the networking capacities of rural economic actors and communities has been noted. Over the last two decades, rural and agri-food network models of institutional support have undergone substantive change. Trust is a vital feature of such programmes, however the nature of trust, and how it is manifest, in rural support programmes is underexplored. A longitudinal qualitative methodology is adopted, involving semi-structured interviews and group discussions with artisanal food producers and institutional actors in four cases of business support. Drawing upon cases demonstrating varying levels of trust, the paper examines how trust is formed, and lost, across forms of institutional support programmes and the underlying factors that moderate trust formation. The analysis provides insights into the conflicting narratives around trust formation from advisor-client perspectives. The paper contributes to theory development by offering a conceptualisation of trust building approaches in advisor-client relationships in rural support programmes.
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