The trade-off between trust and distrust in supply chain collaboration

Weixi Han, Yuan Huang, Mathew Hughes*, Michael Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trust and distrust can play an important role in a healthy supply chain collaborative relationship, and both carry potential shortcomings. Little attention has been paid to understanding and explaining the development process of trust and distrust in supply chain collaborations, especially in an international context. Using the Transaction Cost Economics theory, this study begins by discussing expressions of trust and distrust within the context of a supply chain collaboration dyad. Then, we explore how trust and distrust interact at a network level. Using a novel, longitudinal, multi-case-study approach, this paper provides new empirical evidence of the complementary roles of trust and distrust in supply chain collaboration, exploring how these concepts work together across different stages of the relationship and in different contexts. This study distinguishes between ‘competence trust’ and ‘integrity trust’ concerning collaboration contracts which typically create distrust. Finally, this paper offers unique insights into the influence of culture on the interpretation and performance of trust and distrust in international supply chain collaboration, grounded in the context of the Chinese automotive industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date16 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data collection for this study was supported by Nottingham Business School seedcorn funding.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Case study
  • Chinese automotive industry
  • Distrust
  • Inter-organizational relationships
  • Supply chain collaboration
  • Trust

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