Engendering trust in the construction supply chain

Project success is dependent upon the effective management of people and at the heart of this process is trust. It is often claimed that the construction industry has low levels of trust and numerous reports globally have challenged the industry to address its poor performance on people management and cultural issues. The industry has a long-standing reputation for being adversarial, demonstrated by poor relationships between the client, main contractor and subcontractors, which in turn leads to numerous problems including poor project performance, cost control and poor long-term relationships between the parties involved. These problems are attributed primarily to a lack of harmonisation between contracting parties. This paper investigates the perceptions of trust within the supply chains of partnering projects. It explores the contextual issues surrounding the projects, focusing on the relationship between the partnering method of procurement and the levels of trust that exist within supply chains. This qualitative case study based research provides insights into the multifaceted nature of trust, the difficulty of defining the concept and its evolution through the duration of the project. The paper concludes that trust is an essential element for effective supply chain relationships and can be engendered through teamwork, leadership and the ultimate empowerment of the supply chain. It would appear on the basis of this research that trust can be realised within construction supply chains where partnering principles are a priority.