Trust and the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Graham Brewer (School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)
Scott Strahorn (School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Publication date: 27 April 2012



This paper aims to identify the extent to which dimensions of trust are reflected in the functional description of the role of a project manager as outlined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).


The literature is used to identify trust dimensions that have the potential to impact on the conduct of a project. These are then assembled into a theoretical framework, which is then used to drive a thematic analysis of the project manager's role as described in PMBOK. Similarities are confirmed, and absences identified and explained in the context of the literature.


The fourth edition of PMBOK is the first to make overt reference to the concept of trust. Detailed analysis of the text reveals that although certain trust dimensions are recognised they are dealt with in general terms, as desirable characteristics within the project environment rather than specific facilitators or actions in relation to the conduct of project.

Practical implications

PMBOK is the most widely recognised standard for the conduct of project management, and as such has achieved wide acceptance as defining the project manager's role. It recognises trust as playing a part in the successful management of projects. However, fostering trust is central to the art of project management, and requires greater consideration than indicated by PMBOK.


This is the first critical analysis of PMBOK in relation to trust.



Brewer, G. and Strahorn, S. (2012), "Trust and the Project Management Body of Knowledge", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 286-305.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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