Trust and Project Performance: The Effects of Cognitive-Based and Affective-Based Trust on Client-Project Manager Engagements

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Trust is a crucial element of information technology client-project manager engagements which can serve to positively or negatively affect the client’s perception of project success. This paper attempts to address the effects of cognitive-based and affective-based trust on the information technology client-project manager relationship, specifically as it relates to a client’s perception of “good quality” project performance. A small study was undertaken to test the premise that although both cognitive-based and affective-based trust concepts can affect a client’s perception of project performance, affective-based trust is a more dominant force in the client’s determination of a positive project outcome. A theoretical foundation was drawn from interpersonal and inter-organizational trust literature. Testing of the proposed theoretical trust framework was conducted by surveying the clients of information technology service organization project managers and measuring client responses to statements concerning cognitive-based trust, affective-based trust, and “good quality” project performance related to the overall client-project manager engagement. The survey results suggest that in the client-project manager relationship, affective-based trust factors can supersede cognitive-based trust factors in a client’s perception of “good quality” project performance.

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Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics in the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania Advisor: Jean-Marc Choukroun
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