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Steen Vallentin and Niels Thygesen

This chapter presents an analysis of trust-based public sector reform from the point of view of the trust–control nexus. It is argued that trust reform in the public sector must be considered a process that involves an interweaving of trusting and controlling mindsets and practices. Thus, the case is made for a complementary (as opposed to substitutive) view of trust and control. Noticing a dearth of research that explicitly addresses the trust–control nexus as it relates to public sector management and organization, we argue that the role of trust in this context must be understood in light of the prevalence and interactions of different governance paradigms: the classical model of public administration, new public management (NPM) and new public governance (NPG). With trust-based reform efforts in the Danish public sector as our empirical point of departure, we provide an empirical analysis of reform efforts within home care in the Municipality of Copenhagen. Home care has often been singled out as a low-skilled service area besieged by management control, documentation requirements and monitoring. However, instead of aiming to show how trust-based reform – in accordance with the ostensible benefits of trust promoted in the trust literature – can serve to liberate home care employees, our main concern is to showcase the intricate reconfiguration of social relationships to which such reform gives rise in order to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the trust–control nexus. Theoretically, we apply a socio-analytical lens to the workings of trust and control, drawing, in particular, on the sociological trust literature and Foucauldian notions of power.