Reasons to Believe; Participants' explanations of trust in an outsourcing relationship

Chris Hall, Gillian Symon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nature of trust in an information systems outsourcing relationship is examined by considering the explanations for trust or distrust offered by individuals working at the boundary between the two organisations. Previous studies of trust in outsourcing situations have focused either on evidential bases of trust or the process of the development of trusting relationships. This study takes an institutional perspective and examines how trust may be shaped by the institutional norms of the trustors and the trustees. Interviews with ‘boundary spanners’ suggest that trusting decisions can be explained by reference to an implicit set of rules that govern ‘normal’ behaviour in outsourcing relationships. However, competing sets of rules and contested meanings of these rules arising from different interpretations of the institutional context were implicated in conflict and trust erosion. This case study contributes an alternative viewpoint to the body of research on trust in outsourcing relationships and adds to our understanding of how institutional contexts may influence trust in these business-to-business relationships. Further research on the nature and elicitation of rules and potential organisational interventions is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-170
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Trust Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2012


  • trust
  • outsourcing

Cite this