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Nurturing collaborative relations: building trust in inter-organizational collaboration

Vangen, Siv and Huxham, Chris (2003) Nurturing collaborative relations: building trust in inter-organizational collaboration. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 39 (1). pp. 5-31. ISSN 0021-8863

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Abstract

Many organizations aspire to gain collaborative advantage by working in partnerships across organizational, sectoral, and even national boundaries. Such collaborations, however, are difficult to manage, and the likelihood of disappointing outputs is high. To create advantage, practitioners need to engage in a continuous process of nurturing the collaborative processes. One issue that appears significant in the nurturing process is trust. This article incorporates a synthesis of research on trust with research on other aspects of collaboration. It develops a trust-building loop and examines its validity to inform practice. It argues that trust building is problematic and that management of trust implies both the ability to cope in situations where trust is lacking and the ability to build trust in situations where this is possible. It summarizes pragmatic implications in a tool for thinking about and addressing trust management in different collaborative situations.