Building trust is difficult when it comes to development cooperation, hindered by distance, unequal power relations and complex practices. The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA) report In Proper Organizations We Trust – Trust in Interorganizational Aid Relations investigated the character and extent of trust-based management within Swedish aid relationships.

Conclusions:

  • Trust may not be mandated.
  • An important source of trust comes from norms about what a “proper organization” should look like, including strong control systems.
  • Such norms risk leading to mainstreaming of partner organizations, since trust is given to organizations fulfilling the norms rather than to results achieved.
  • The same organization may simultaneously display both trust and mistrust, since it may both give and receive aid at the same time.

Among other things, the authors argued that interpersonal relationships between key individuals should have more weight. Long-term relationships between individuals may contribute to building trust between organizations.