Does Trust = Success?

The key take-away from this analysis: the importance of trust can be over-rated

Many academic and industry writers in the field of strategic alliances argue that trust is one of the most important factors, or even the only important factor, in determining the success or otherwise of an strategic alliance. We decided to test this proposition against the database of feedback captured in all surveys undertaken by Silico Research on behalf of clients over the past number of years. We found the following:

  1. There is a weak, not a strong, positive correlation (0.41) between the respondent's perception of the trustworthiness of the partner and the respondent's perception of the success of the strategic alliance or collaboration.
  2. Other factors covered have a greater correlation with the success of the strategic alliance or collaboration than trust. These factors include:
  3. The partner having an effective problem-solving and 'can-do' culture (0.52);
  4. The company's staff doing everything they can to stick to agreed or indicated timetables or schedules (0.52); and,
  5. The company's senior leadership showing its full commitment to the strategic alliance (0.52).
  6. Some strategic alliances and collaborations for which we have collected feedback (6%) which demonstrate a low level of trust yet which were successful.
  7. The percentage of unsuccessful strategic alliances that showed a low level of trust (17%) was not significantly higher than the number of unsuccessful strategic alliances that showed a high level of trust (13%) again calling into question the central role of trust in making a strategic alliance or collaboration a success.

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