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  • Esteban Lizarazo (Researcher in Supply Chain

Why Trust Matters in Management and Life. Reflections from a supply chain practitioner.

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

I was reading a very good book “Logistics and Supply Chain Management”, written by Martin Christopher, an emeritus professor at Cranfield University. He claims that it is very important for any supply chain to develop the four r’s: resilience, relationship, reliability, and responsiveness. I thought that it would be good to develop these concepts in supply chain management for any business and, in practice, learn to handle them in top management and life. I came to this writing after hours of reflection and my firm conviction that you can discover a different way of seeing things and life through the supply chain lens. At the end of this paper, I hope you can get some reflections on your daily practice and personal life.

In this opportunity, I will address the Reliability term firstly, mainly because I believe it is the most fundamental for practitioners and can be easily adapted. The most likely cause of reliability in supply chain management is trusty relationships. Nowadays, it is more common to give enormous effort to construct and bind the trusty relationships between stakeholders. In the same way, I also find valid and prompt the assumptions held here for any kind of relationship. Let me ask you a question before moving on, and please try to take some time to think about it. How reliable (trusty) are we as managers for our team, organization, friends and family?

From a Supply Chain point of view, Trust can be broadly defined as the willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence (Flint et al., 2005). Trust also can be derived from commitment, understood as “an implicit or explicit pledge of relational continuity between exchange partners”. One major drawback of this definition is that we don’t agree on what the pledges are. What are my expectations and limitations and what are yours should be mandatory questions for most relationships. For example, it is common for managers not to give feedback properly, paying attention to the results but not understanding the limitations and constraints that can appear from time to time. Do you take time to understand and allow others to understand your pledges? Or is it just your assumption that you rely more upon tacit agreements? Transparency and a clear outline may be part of the solution here and something to put into practice.

It is a widely held view that interdependence can strengthen trust. Previous studies defined interdependence as the need for a firm to maintain a relationship with an exchange partner to achieve a goal. The mutual dependence between the firms is a strong motivator for exchanging crucial information and participation in planning joint operational processes. Also, Interdependence is strongly related to the long-term relationship objectives. When I first read the term, my coach pops up in my mind (let this be the opportunity to give my gratitude to Ximena Angarita for her hour of patience and her helpful and practical hints), explaining how important it is to look in life for a win to win relationships with your kinfolks. Is interdependence the ultimate goal of any kind of relationship and far more complex to achieve and pervade than the dependent and independent relationships (generally found in most of our interactions in life and work)? Therefore, it seems that trust is the essential characteristic that supply chain management practices can teach to other fields and personal life. As I wrote, it is supported in building up interdependent comradeship.

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