To trust or not to trust: Is trust a prerequisite for solving design quality problems?

Petteri Uusitalo*, Eelon Lappalainen, Olli Seppänen, Ergo Pikas, Antti Peltokorpi, Nikolai Menzhinskii, Mikko Piitulainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Low trust levels among project parties are generally believed to harm construction project performance, but the role of trust in the context of information flow and solving design quality problems (DQP) remains understudied. Whereas lean design management research highlights the importance of managing information flow, few studies have investigated the association between trust, information flow and DQP (or any combination thereof). This exploratory study investigates the association between trust and information flow in design projects and how these factors influence design quality. The paper presents a conceptual framework based on existing research on building design management and trust in a project context. The framework is elaborated on and validated using a single case study approach with multiple sites. The results indicate that even though the trust trend in the project is somewhat negatively connected to the overall amount of work and work in progress of DQP, increasing trust is not a prerequisite for solving DQP and that owners and contractors can have opposite opinions on the trust level. This study contributes to ongoing discussions about trust, information flow and design management and suggests that teams should focus on improving communication and collaboration to compensate for low trust levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • trust
  • lean
  • design management
  • information flow
  • design quality


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