Agencification has extended and intensified the delegation problem. It has created new (administrative) principals, who are confronted with even more uncertainty as agents operate at arm's length. Trust is suggested as a new mode of governance. Based on the literature seven hypotheses are deduced on conditions that politicians can use to build trust: autonomy; contacts; policy involvement; and involvement in the design of monitoring devices. These hypotheses are tested using survey data on 219 Dutch executive agencies. Contrary to the expectations, executive agencies with low degrees of autonomy have a more trusting relationship with their parent ministry than agencies with high autonomy. Proximity and frequent interactions appear more important to trust than autonomy. Monitoring is not always perceived as a sign of distrust. These findings raise new questions on how principals can reduce the delegation problem and control executive agencies.

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Keywords Autonomy, Delegation, Executive agencies, Quasi-autonomous government, Trust
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Journal Public Management Review: an international journal of research and theory
van Thiel, S, & Yesilkagit, K. (2011). Good neighbours or distant friends?: Trust between Dutch ministries and their executive agencies. Public Management Review: an international journal of research and theory, 13(6), 783–802. doi:10.1080/14719037.2010.539111