Trust in projects: An empirical assessment of owner/contractor relationships

Jeffrey K. Pinto, Dennis P. Slevin, Brent English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

277 Scopus citations


A great deal of literature has pointed to the importance of trust as a facilitator of positive relationships among project stakeholders. Trust is argued to enhance a variety of intra-organizational relationships, including project team dynamics, top management support, and coordination across functional departments. Likewise, trust is argued to improve the inter-organizational relationships among principal actors in project development, such as contractors, owners, and suppliers. This paper reports on the results of an empirical study that investigated the impact of trust between project owners and contractors in a number of large construction projects in Canada. We operationalized trust along the Hartman [Hartman FT. The role of trust in project management. In: Slevin DP, Cleland DI, Pinto JK, editors. The frontiers of project management research. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute; 2002, p. 225-35] dimensions as incorporating both competence and integrity and compared the perspectives of project contractors and owners. Using regression and path analysis, we analyzed the differential effects of competence and integrity trust on enhanced owner/contractor relationships and project success. Our findings indicate that trust has different meanings for contractors and owners, as its impact on satisfaction with the relationship and positive project outcomes varies depending upon which group is surveyed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-648
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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