Trust and Control in Evolving Inter-organisational Relationships: Evidence from the Aerospace Industry

Evangelia Varoutsa, Robert Scapens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
334 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates about the relationship between trust and control in the governance of inter-organisational relationships. In particular, the authors focus on the question of how the relationship between trust and control shifts over time.

An in-depth case study was conducted in a company operating in the aerospace industry. The authors aim to understand this company’s practices and, at the same time, to use the case study to deepen the knowledge of the complex trust/control nexus. The authors follow the changes in the relationship between trust and control as the company restructured its supply chain, and discuss issues which it had to address in the later phases of the supply chain restructuring.

The paper illustrates the duality of the trust/control nexus. The authors show how the studied company coped with the complex relationships with its suppliers as collaboration increased. The authors identify particular control mechanisms that the company developed to manage such complexity, such as a supplier strategy and a relationship profile tool.

Research limitations/implications
The paper studies supply chain restructuring and the changing relationship of trust and control over time only from the perspective of the assembler/manufacturer which “owns”/manages the supply chain.

The authors observe a move from inter-personal trust to inter-organisational trust. Furthermore, the authors illustrate how managers can intervene to maintain and stabilise trust and ensure that trust and control do not degrade or escalate beyond desirable levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-140
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018


  • Control
  • Inter-organizational relationships
  • Trust
  • Duality
  • Aerospace industry
  • Supply chain maturity model


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