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Trust and control in evolving inter-organisational relationships: Evidence from the aerospace industry

Evangelia Varoutsa (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Robert W. Scapens (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK) (Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 January 2018




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.



The authors gratefully acknowledge comments and helpful insights from John Cullen, Sven Modell and Ed Vosselman as well as the participants at GMARS 2012 and the EAA 2012 Annual Congress.


Varoutsa, E. and Scapens, R.W. (2018), "Trust and control in evolving inter-organisational relationships: Evidence from the aerospace industry", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 112-140.



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