The interplay between financial rules, trust and power in strategic partnerships in the construction industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – To explore how and why the social structures of strategic partnerships are shaped by actors and how these interrelate with a team’s interpersonal relationships over time. Grasping the complexity of this interplay is essential if we want to comprehend what actually goes on in these partnerships and understand why actors often disengage from them.
Design/methodology/approach – In three cases, 14 in-depth interviews were held with knowledgeable actors about important events and activities that influenced the relationships between partners. Interview data were triangulated with journals kept by the lead author, who participated as an engaged scholar in the three cases. Because this study took an interdisciplinary approach, new insights could evolve from the multi-level analysis.
Findings – Trust has a moderating effect on the relation between open-book accounting and the degree of control a dominant party wants to exercise. When the level of control is raised, this can signal distrust to the other partners, which can harm the relationship. When partners feel more dependent on each other’s
capabilities to reach their long-term goals, the parties seem to be less likely to put the blame on one of the partners in the case of undesirable events.
Practical implications – Managers should be aware of their power position and acknowledge the effects of power on their relationships. If long-term and close collaboration does not emerge in their partnership, it may be due to how they use their power position.
Originality/value – Thanks to the interdisciplinary approach, this is the first study that shows the significance of trust and power in maintaining strategic partnerships in the construction industry, and how trust can affect the financial rules of actors.
Keywords Strategic partnering, Structuration theory, Power relations, Trust, Construction industry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1108
Number of pages20
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Construction industry
  • Power relations
  • Strategic partnering
  • Structuration theory
  • Trust


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