IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

I trust you, I trust you not: a longitudinal study of control mechanisms in incentive contracts


  • Ulrika Badenfelt


The relationship between trust and control in client-contractor interactions is explored, focusing on the control mechanisms used in a construction project. A longitudinal case study of a large laboratory construction project found that the client used a variety of control mechanisms to ensure that the contractor behaved trustworthily. Empirical data were gathered through interviews and non-participant observation. The results indicate that the use of control mechanisms is part of a complex and dynamic socially constructed process that requires ongoing discussion and evaluation, and to which informal control mechanisms are central. Business relationships built solely on trust are seemingly rare; even in trust-based collaborative settings, such as partnering arrangements; the contracting parties must pay attention to trust-nurturing actions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrika Badenfelt, 2010. "I trust you, I trust you not: a longitudinal study of control mechanisms in incentive contracts," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 301-310.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:28:y:2010:i:3:p:301-310
    DOI: 10.1080/01446191003587745

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bart Nooteboom, 2007. "Social capital, institutions and trust," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 65(1), pages 29-53.
    2. William G. Ouchi, 1979. "A Conceptual Framework for the Design of Organizational Control Mechanisms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(9), pages 833-848, September.
    3. Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, 1985. "Control: Organizational and Economic Approaches," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 134-149, February.
    4. Mike Bresnen & Nick Marshall, 2000. "Building partnerships: case studies of client-contractor collaboration in the UK construction industry," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(7), pages 819-832.
    5. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
    6. HOLMSTROM, Bengt, 1979. "Moral hazard and observability," LIDAM Reprints CORE 379, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Jeffrey H. Dyer & Wujin Chu, 2003. "The Role of Trustworthiness in Reducing Transaction Costs and Improving Performance: Empirical Evidence from the United States, Japan, and Korea," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(1), pages 57-68, February.
    8. Kamminga, Pieter E. & Van der Meer-Kooistra, Jeltje, 2007. "Management control patterns in joint venture relationships: A model and an exploratory study," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 131-154.
    9. Mike Bresnen & Nick Marshall, 2000. "Motivation, commitment and the use of incentives in partnerships and alliances," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(5), pages 587-598.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Sebastian Goebel & Barbara E. Weißenberger, 2017. "Effects of management control mechanisms: towards a more comprehensive analysis," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 87(2), pages 185-219, February.
    2. Kloyer, Martin & Scholderer, Joachim, 2012. "Effective incomplete contracts and milestones in market-distant R&D collaboration," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 346-357.
    3. Lajili, Kaouthar & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2005. "Revisiting Agency and Transaction Costs Theory Predictions on Vertical Financial Ownership and Contracting: Electronic Integration as an Organizational Form Choice," Working Papers 05-0106, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    4. Onjewu, Adah-Kole Emmanuel & Walton, Nigel & Koliousis, Ioannis, 2023. "Blockchain agency theory," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    5. Laurie J. Kirsch & V. Sambamurthy & Dong-Gil Ko & Russell L. Purvis, 2002. "Controlling Information Systems Development Projects: The View from the Client," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(4), pages 484-498, April.
    6. Mark H. Hansen & Robert E. Hoskisson & Jay B. Barney, 2008. "Competitive advantage in alliance governance: resolving the opportunism minimization-gain maximization paradox," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2-3), pages 191-208.
    7. Naresh Bansal & Kissan Bansal & Minghui Ma & M. Babajide Wintoki, 2017. "Do CMO Incentives Matter? An Empirical Investigation of CMO Compensation and Its Impact on Firm Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(6), pages 1993-2015, June.
    8. Ricart, Joan E. & Alvarez, Jose L. & Gallo, Miguel A., 1998. "Governance mechanisms for effective leadership: The case of Spain," IESE Research Papers D/371, IESE Business School.
    9. KEMİKKIRAN, Nurcan & KIZRAK, Meral, 2022. "Controlled Collaboration In Organizations: The Role Of Knowledge Management, Performance And Trust," Academic Review of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bursa Teknik Üniversitesi, vol. 5(2), pages 156-181.
    10. Ricart, Joan E. & Corrales, Jose M., 2000. "Managerial appraisal and compensation: The case of Spain," IESE Research Papers D/413, IESE Business School.
    11. Chan, Alex W.H. & Cheung, Hoi Yan, 2016. "Extraversion, individualism and M&A activities," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 356-369.
    12. Hudson, William T. & Purcell, Wayne D., 2001. "Risk Sharing and Compensation Guides for Managers and Members of Verticle Beef Alliances," Staff Papers 232386, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    13. Jorge Pinilla & Joaquim Vergés, 2007. "Efectos De La Privatización En La Eficiencia De Iberia Líneas Aéreas De España S.A," Revista Economía y Administración, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas, Universidad de Concepción, vol. 69, pages 7-38, December.
    14. Kissan Joseph & Alex Thevaranjan, 1998. "Monitoring and Incentives in Sales Organizations: An Agency-Theoretic Perspective," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 107-123.
    15. Kyle J. Mayer & Jack A. Nickerson, 2005. "Antecedents and Performance Implications of Contracting for Knowledge Workers: Evidence from Information Technology Services," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(3), pages 225-242, June.
    16. Davila, Antonio, 2003. "Short-term economic incentives in new product development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1397-1420, September.
    17. Hugo Hopenhayn & Arantxa Jarque, 2006. "Moral Hazard and Persistence," 2006 Meeting Papers 670, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Calcagno, R. & Renneboog, L.D.R., 2004. "Capital Structure and Managerial Compensation : The Effects of Remuneration Seniority," Discussion Paper 2004-015, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    19. Yaofeng Fu & Ruokun Huang & Yiran Sheng, 2017. "Labor Contract Law -An Economic View," Papers 1702.03977,
    20. Markus Mayer & Markus Voeth, 2022. "Improving negotiation success in B2B sales organizations: is structured negotiation management a success factor?," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 92(2), pages 163-196, February.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:28:y:2010:i:3:p:301-310. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Chris Longhurst (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.