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Chang, Y H and Tang, B (2005) Trust, partnership and power in construction: theory and applications in Hong Kong. Journal of Construction Procurement, 11(02), 94-111.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: China; constraints; Hong Kong; partnering; trust
  • URL: https://ira.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/10397/29386
  • Abstract:

    Partnering has been widely promoted by many governments as an appropriate arrangement to nurture and improve working relationships between developers and building contractors. Like many of its overseas counterparts, the Construction Industry Review Committee (CIRC) of Hong Kong advocates partnering to promote inter-organizational cooperation. However, successful implementation of this policy proposal requires further consideration of the following issues: the acute imbalance of bargaining power between developers and builders, the constraints posed by public accountability and contract law, and the cultivation of trust. Adopting Nooteboom’s theoretical model and drawing evidence from the local property and construction industry, we argue that contractors, expecting repeat business, will cooperate. Trust, though highly desirable, is not a necessary condition for fostering cooperation. Besides, trust has to be cultivated and habitualized to be an effective non-egotistic source of cooperation. Yet, legal ordering could restrict habitualization of trust, especially in cases involving government agencies bound by administrative as well as contract laws. Legal ordering, on the other hand, also protects both parties to a contract. Its role on facilitating inter-organizational cooperation should be capitalized on, not sidelined, in partnering. Our study casts severe doubt on the feasibility and even the desirability of partnering in its full egalitarian intention in the local construction industry and urges that attention should be directed to such issues of economic and institutional constraints, as well as the cultivation and operationalization of trust.