The trust building loop

The trust building loop is a concept centred around the idea that trust should be developed incrementally, with the successful outcome of each step serving to reinforce trust and underpin more ambitious collaboration. Through the accumulation of ‘small wins’ (Bryson, 1988), the trust building loops builds on itself over time.

However, it could be argued that the ‘small wins’ approach is overly-simplistic; while it may work with low-risk collaborations, or collaborations that are not heavily constrained by time, it may not be such an appropriate strategy in more ambitious collaborative contexts, or those that do not have the luxury of time in which to develop trust incrementally.

Some more features of collaborative contexts that impact on initiating the loop are:

  • ambiguity and complexity of the collaborative context
  • the difficulty in clarifying aims, expectations, and the collaborative agenda
  • managing risk while trust develops.

There are also several features of collaborative contexts that impact on sustaining the loop.

  • the constantly changing dynamics of collaboration
  • power imbalances within a collaborative context
  • the need for nurturing and continuous effort to sustain trust.

(Source: Huxham and Vangen, 2005).

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