Inter-organisational trust is different to inter-personal trust. In human relationships we use the language of trust when we talk about personal loyalty, of people caring for each other in sickness and in health, and always looking after a friend’s best interests. But in relationships between organisations the people at the interfaces face the challenges of wearing two hats – they have loyalties to their own organisation (their employer) and they have loyalties towards their partner organisation (or customer). Now of course you’d want these to be beautifully aligned, but in my experience this alignment is never perfect – priorities and incentives change over time and that always creates points of tension or conflict. When thinking about inter-organisational trust its useful for you (and your partners) to define your terms more closely.

The attached article was originally written for the MLA Spotlight magazine.Trust between organisations blog