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Trust in Project Management

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I am delighted that ICB 4.0 recognizes the importance of trust in project management. This is an important change introduced into the last version of this document. For instance, Section 4.4.4. entitled „Relations and Engagements“ argues as follows:

“Personal relations build the foundation for the productive collaboration, personal engagement, and commitments of others. This include one-to-one relations as well as setting up a whole network of relations. (…) The ability to form strong relationship is primarily driven by social competences such as empathy, trust and communication skills. Sharing vision and goals with individuals and the team drives others  to engage in tasks and commit to the common goals.”

This is very much in line with my own research in construction project management. My recent book entitled „Trust in Construction Projects“ focuses on trust. The book is grounded in many years of empirical research involving project managers with considerable experience in major construction projects across the world.

The book aims to further the understanding of trust in construction projects. Communication risk is the main threat of trust. The asymmetry of information exchanged between the project owners and contractors in the construction process may lead to significant problems in the construction phase of major projects. This is a situation in which one of the parties is better informed than the others.

One of the main findings of the research leading up to this book is that the relationship between project managers representing project owners and contractors is central to the construction phase itself, which is characterised by risk minimisation. During this phase, the project owner and contractor play subsidiary roles. This is an important finding that should inform further development of this field.

The other key research finding underlying this book is that trust between all the parties involved is the main risk-minimisation strategy in the construction phase. This is especially important for project managers representing project owners and contractors. Once developed, trust outshines all other strategies and is essential for project success. The book thus focuses on trust in construction projects.

As the research underpinning the book shows, the interest in the subject is shared between researchers and practitioners in the field of construction project management. Ever-closer ties between the two are to be hoped for in the future. This is where trust will perforce play an important role one more time, for both sides can only gain by establishing good communication and lasting cooperation. What applies to the parties engaged in construction projects also applies to practitioners and researchers concerned with continual improvement of construction management in practice.

The book’s findings apply to many fields of project management and not only to construction project management. Simply put, trust is central to project management in general. As a researcher, I hope that ICB 4.0 will provide a welcome impetus to further research in this field. Indeed, I am convinced that trust is a subject of central interest across all fields of project management. In this context, I hope that my book will contribute to the better understanding of this important subject.

- Author of this post

Anita Ceric is a Professor at the Department of Construction Management and Economics at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden in Germany. Anita’s research interests are in risk management and human resource management in the context of construction project management, as well as maintenance management and facilities management in the context of corporate real estate management. She serves on editorial boards of several academic journals. She is a member of the Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM); Working Commissions W55 on Building Economics and W65 on Construction Management of the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB); the International Project Management Association (IPMA); the Engineering Project Organization Society (EPOS); the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); and the Academy of Management (AOM).

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