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Original Research

Enabling information sharing by establishing trust in supply chains: A case study in the South African automotive industry

Roxanne Piderit, Stephen Flowerday, Rossouw Von Solms

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 13, No 1 (2011), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v13i1.473

Submitted: 11 February 2011
Published:  06 October 2011


Background: The significant economic importance of the country’s automotive industry provided the context for this study. The success of the industry relies on the effectiveness and efficiency of the supply chain, which can be significantly affected by the strength of the supply chain relationships. The role of trust and information sharing in relation to two key theories was considered, namely: organisational information processing theory and game theory. Previous studies have recognised the importance of trust and information sharing in supply chain relationships and considered the effect of trust on information sharing, or the effect of information sharing on trust in a single direction. Thus, the potential cyclical relationship between the two factors has been largely ignored.

Objectives: This paper explored the relationship between trust and information sharing in South African automotive supply chains, and establishes the importance of nurturing a cyclical relationship between these two factors. In addition, the role of information technology (IT) in supporting this relationship was considered. By improving both trust and information sharing, the performance and competitiveness of the supply chain can be improved.

Method: An examination of the effects of a lack of trust in a supply chain relationship, and the consequential lack of information flow, was conducted by means of a case study of an Eastern Cape-based automotive supplier. A case study research method was followed for this study, which made use of multiple data collection methods, including document survey and participant observations. The case selected is an East London based subsidiary of a larger multinational automotive component supplier to both local and international automotive original equipment manufacturers.

Results: The findings led to the conclusion that the way forward for competitive supply chains is to build trust in the supply chain in order to improve information flow, and vice versa. Information technology can be used to nurture this cyclical relationship between trust and information sharing.

Conclusion: It is proposed that simultaneously improving information flow and trust in an interorganisational relationship leads to improved supply chain performance and competitiveness.

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Author affiliations

Roxanne Piderit, University of Fort Hare Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Stephen Flowerday, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Rossouw Von Solms, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


Governance; Information Sharing; Information Technology; Supply Chains; Trust


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ISSN: 2078-1865 (print) | ISSN: 1560-683X (online)

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