Title: Trust and control: public administration and risk society

Authors: Hans Christian Høyer; Elin Marit Wood

Addresses: Faculty of Business Administration and Social Sciences, Hedmark University College, 2451 Rena, Norway. ' Faculty of Business Administration and Social Sciences, Hedmark University College, 2451 Rena, Norway

Abstract: Today we live in a society with many choices and possibilities which were absent just a few decades ago. Knowledge is seen as temporary, and many paradoxes are experienced in the flow of information surrounding us. A basic insecurity can be seen as a consequence of this development. This paper re-thinks the consequences at the administrational and organisational levels, when mistrust is institutionalised as the natural and rational mindset instead of trust. Another consequence is a desire to reduce actual risk by attempting to control the future with risk assessment and control procedures, instead of accepting the complexity as something that is. An administrative strategy based upon mistrust and focused on control and management of colleagues seems self-perpetuating and contributes to a form of management cynicism that is neither effective nor professionally stimulating or innovative. The benefit of behaving trustingly can override having to tolerate some insecurity and deviation.

Keywords: public administration; confidence; risk societies; information flows; insecurity; institutionalised mistrust; natural mindsets; rational mindsets; trust; society; risk reduction; risk assessment; control procedures; complexity; administrative strategies; management cynicism; colleagues; deviation; organisations; change.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2011.044209

International Journal of Learning and Change, 2011 Vol.5 No.2, pp.178 - 188

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 06 Dec 2011 *

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