Building on trust: a co-operative approach to construction procurement

Wood, GD and McDermott, P 2001, 'Building on trust: a co-operative approach to construction procurement' , Journal of Construction Procurement, 7 (2) , pp. 4-14.

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The central argument of this paper is that the key to successful implementation of relationship-based procurement strategies lies in trust. Trust is essential to relationships because it is the glue that binds co-operative relationships together. It is a multidimensional, multifaceted social phenomenon, which is regarded by some as an attitude, by others as a personality trait and by yet others as a vital social lubricant. We focus on those particular aspects germane to partnering approaches to construction procurement. Trust is defined as the willingness to rely upon the actions of others, to be dependent upon them, and thus be vulnerable to their actions. Others argue that collaboration can be achieved, not through trust, but only through trading power or incentives. The paradox here is that the one industry, which has most extensively developed subcontracting, should prove to be so resistant to the collaborative approaches to procurement. How to move forward in an adversarial sector is described. Increased co-operation is only possible if we accept increased vulnerability; that is why we need trust. The greater the risk to which we are exposed in co-operating with others, the greater our need for trust. Partnering is an attempt to gain the benefits of increased co-operation, and in seeking that, any individual firm must increase its vulnerability to the potential for others to harm them. Interview data presented demonstrates that moves are already taking place to working practices and processes to make it more likely that trust will develop. To establish any relationship, a minimal degree of trust has to be offered. Trust deepens only where the co-operation of the other parties gives evidence of their competence, their ability to keep promises, to communicate openly and honestly, sharing information, to produce mutually beneficial outcomes. Confidence increases, the relationship becomes closer, more open and more trusting so that the partners are in a virtuous cycle. Finally, theoretical justification and some empirical support for the contention that culture change is possible in construction, notwithstanding its unenviable record for adversarial relations, is offered.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD0028 - 0070 Management. Industrial Management
Subjects / Themes > T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Built and Human Environment
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Schools > School of the Built Environment > Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructures & Sustainable Environments
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Construction Procurement
Publisher: University of Salford, UK
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 13589180
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2007 12:33
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 22:01

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