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Open AccessArticle

Trusting the People and the System. The Interrelation Between Interpersonal and Institutional Trust in Collective Action for Agri-Environmental Management

1
Strategic Communication Group, Wageningen University & Research, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Institute of Law & Economics, Behavioural Law and Economics Group, Faculty of Law, Hamburg University, 20148 Hamburg, Germany
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Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open University, 6401 DL Heerlen, The Netherlands
4
Agricultural and Food Policy Group, Thaer Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7022; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247022
Received: 18 October 2019 / Revised: 4 December 2019 / Accepted: 6 December 2019 / Published: 9 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Natural Resource Management)
Agri-environmental schemes have been introduced in numerous countries to combat biodiversity loss in agrarian landscapes that are important for both food production and biodiversity. The successful operation of such schemes depends strongly upon trust between actors involved, as well as trust in institutions that govern these schemes. However, the interplay between interpersonal and institutional trust in the context of collective action for agri-environmental management is not well understood. To address this question, we explore the case of agri-environmental management in the province of Drenthe (in The Netherlands), where a new policy model was implemented. This case shows how both institutional design and institutional performance critically influence trust dynamics. Under the old policy model, farmers struggled with auditing and control, which fostered mistrust and hampered collective action. Under the new model, a landscape approach, more responsibilities were delegated to farmers, and more room was created for interaction, which fostered trust both between actors and in institutions. Based on our findings, we conclude that institutional designs that reflect trust in the actors can foster interpersonal and institutional trust that, in turn, facilitates collective action. However, old arrangements can also create path dependencies that limit trust development and impede collective action for agri-environmental management. View Full-Text
Keywords: trust; collective action; agri-environmental management; the Netherlands; collectives trust; collective action; agri-environmental management; the Netherlands; collectives
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de Vries, J.R.; van der Zee, E.; Beunen, R.; Kat, R.; Feindt, P.H. Trusting the People and the System. The Interrelation Between Interpersonal and Institutional Trust in Collective Action for Agri-Environmental Management. Sustainability 2019, 11, 7022.

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