The Co-Evolution of Trust, Control, and Learning in Joint Ventures

By Andrew C. Inkpen & Steven C. Currall

This article examines the evolution of trust, control, and learning in a joint venture relationship. Using a coevolutionary approach, we develop a framework that shows how initial joint venture conditions give way to evolved conditions as joint venture partners develop an understanding of each other and adjust the collaborative process. We explore the relationship between trust and control in joint ventures and identify how these two critical concepts impact joint venture processes. We argue that trust, along with partner collaborative objectives, creates the initial climate that shapes partner interactions. In turn, these interactions lead to subsequent decisions about the nature of controls. We then examine linkages between alliance learning and the trust and control concepts, and argue that learning processes are central to evolving joint venture dynamics. Once the joint venture is formed, and if the initial conditions support continued collaboration, then learning processes will be central to evolving alliance dynamics. As initial conditions give way to evolved conditions,
learning and trust will coevolve and impact decisions about control. Propositions linking the concepts are provided as guides for future empirical research.