Designing for trust: A case of value-sensitive design

PE Vermaas, Y Tan, MJ van den Hoven, B. Burgemeestre, J Hulstijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this paper, we consider the meaning, roles, and uses of trust in the economic and public domain, focusing on the task of designing systems for trust in information technology. We analyze this task by means of a survey of what trust means in the economic and public domain, using the model proposed by Lewicki and Bunker, and using the emerging paradigm of value-sensitive design. We explore the difficulties developers face when designing information technology for trust and show how our analysis in conjunction with existing engineering design methods provides means to address these difficulties. Our main case concerns a concrete problem in the economic domain, namely the transfer of control from customs agencies to companies. Control of individual items is increasingly untenable and is replaced by control on the level of companies aimed at determining whether companies can be trusted to be in control of their business and to be in compliance with applicable regulations. This transfer sets the task for companies to establish this trust by means of information technology systems. We argue that this trust can be achieved by taking into account philosophical analyses of trust and by including both parties in the trust relationship as clients for whom the information technology systems are to be designed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-505
Number of pages15
JournalKnowledge, Technology and Policy
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • design methods
  • design for trust
  • information technology
  • trust
  • value-sensitive design


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