Trust Building in Construction: Evidence, Bases and Measures

Project: Research

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Several major industry reviews have suggested that a more cooperative approach in construction contracting will improve the efficiency of the industry. Cooperation is underpinned by trust, which is central to every transaction/economic exchange that demands contributions from the parties involved. The 2008 financial turmoil resulting from the credit crunch is an illustrative example. Without trust in the system and credibility among the banks, inter-bank lending was paralyzed. 'Nationalization' of banks was effected in the U.S., U.K. and other members of the European Community in order to restore the trustworthiness of the banking system and its members.In construction, some great success stories have been reported from time to time on how trusting relationships assisted in avoiding disputes. However, skepticism over genuine cooperation and doubt over the attainability of trust prevail in the construction community. There is an obvious gap between the desired and the prevalent level of trust in construction. This study aims to bridge this gap by suggesting ways to build inter-organizational trust within the construction supply chain. To accomplish this aim, five operating objectives are proposed: obtain empirical evidence of trusting relationships in construction; conceptualize trust in construction; empirically test the conceptualization; identify effective trust-building measures; and share the findings with the construction community.Trust bases refer to the underpinnings upon which trust germinates and grows. Trust types are groupings of similar trust bases and trust building measures refer to the acts of, or systems installed by, an organization that seeks to germinate, foster or maintain trust bases so that the trust level between the contracting organizations can improve. As the nature of this research is fairly descriptive and qualitative, a combination of case studies, focus group discussion and statistical analyses are proposed. Prominent and leading industrial collaborators have agreed to be the core members of a focus group, in order to render advice, contacts and networks for the study. Membership of the focus group will be extended to ensure proper representation from various sectors of the construction supply chain and from academia. With this set up, a conceptual framework of the causal links among trust types, trust bases and trust building measures will be developed and tested empirically using the technique of Structural Equation Modeling. Effective trust building measures will be identified using the technique of Multiple Moderated Regression. The findings will be shared with the construction community through publications and seminars.


Project number9041442
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1022/08/13