Trust relations in the construction industry

Ellen Lau*, Steve Rowlinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The paper aims to report on a thesis completed in 2005 that had relevance to the project management community. The thesis dealt with trust relations in the construction industry in respect of strategy formulation and to provide a hierarchy model to explain the concept of general trust of the individual and the industry, situational trust, a value-based trust, inter-personal and inter-firm trust via quantitative and qualitative study.

A pilot study with structured questionnaires and a case study approach are adopted to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from ten projects operating with partnering and non-partnering approach.

The findings help to explain trust relations with three issues: a group perspective of value-based trust; the perception of trust by clients and contractors in the construction industry; and the hierarchy of a trust model based on the moral, social and work dimensions of trust.

Research limitations/implications
The paper indicates that the value of clients and contractors in the construction industry are different and affects the overall project performance. For multiple parties working therefore requires identification of the deficient areas or constraints when managing differences among people. Further work needs to be done in respect of the behavioural outcome.

Practical implications
This theoretical framework is used as the foundation of a trust model (the analytical hierarchy process model) to evaluate the types of trust prevailing at the time of measurement. The model can be used in any situation requiring understanding of the relationships among the parties under investigation. This paper puts the subject in context by using project case studies, which provide a better understanding of trust in a situation involving multiple parties.

The thesis is of value to both practitioners and academics/researchers in the management development of construction projects in a multi-party working situation by modeling in a hierarchy process of the factor components affecting trust relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-704
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes


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