The trust-control nexus in public private partnership (PPP) contracts

Aminah Abdullah, Iqbal Khadaroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the trust-control nexus in the context of public private partnership (PPP) contracts. It draws on the literature and the case of two UK school PPP contracts with varying degree of trust among the partners to illustrate the role of control in building competence trust and goodwill trust, and how trust in turn affects control. Prior to entering into the PPP contract, under a condition of high risk and low trust, reliance was placed on formal control to evaluate competence trust for the purpose of selecting a preferred bidder, whilst goodwill trust, which takes time to evolve, played no role in the selection process. During contract implementation, formal control formed the basis for demonstrating competence and nurturing goodwill trust. Trust subsequently determined the extent of reliance on formal control and informal control. In the case of School 1, high level of trust led to a reliance on informal control which enabled partners to focus resources on solving problems, whilst formal control operated in the background. In the case of School 2, low level of trust and perceived lack of transparency led to a demand for additional formal control. This study adds to the trust-control literature by shedding light on how trust relates to control, in the context of long-term PPP contracts which are difficult to specify in advance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106768
JournalJournal of Accounting and Public Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Alliances
  • Control
  • PPPs
  • Partnerships
  • Performance
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science


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