Trust-Builder: A First-Run Study on Active Trust-Building

James P. Smith1, Zofia K. Rybkowski2, Mindy Bergman3 & Mardelle Shepley4

1Primary Contact: Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Science and Management, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, [email protected]
2Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, U.S.A
3Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, U.S.A
4Professor, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, U.S.A.


Despite being a common theme in company mission statements and core values, the role of trust receives little to no active consideration on the construction jobsite. This research attempts to lay the foundation for additional research into trust-building in construction by determining whether or not trust can be actively and deliberately managed by a conscientious and regular analysis of current and upcoming relationships. Three key findings from the literature provide the groundwork for this research: (1) high levels of trust between project participants increase productivity and enhance team performance; (2) trust is built or broken as a cumulative result of our actions and behaviors; and (3) trust levels can be accurately measured. Using student groups as a sample, we tested to see if specific trust-building interventions could be effectively introduced into group interactions. Results show some support for the theory that individuals who deliberately initiated trust-building interventions perceived a higher overall change in trust level towards their peers than other participants.


Trust, sustainable relationships, collaboration



Smith, J. P. , Rybkowski, Z. K. , Bergman, M. & Shepley, M. 2014. Trust-Builder: A First-Run Study on Active Trust-Building, 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 305-316.

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