Trust-based leadership - a philosophical perspective

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Rikke Marie Underbjerg
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
In reaction to New Public Management researchers problematize the tendency to increased bureaucratic and control in public administration and the negativity it has broth, - the phenomenon ‘trust’ has been put on the agenda. The focus point of the thesis's is the trust-based leadership. I will use Tina Bentzen's PhD " trust-based governance and leadership in public organizations: in the leap from ambition to practice”. The thesis wanted to investigate the reason why it seems so difficult to implement when, according to Tina Bentzen, researcher in trust, there seems to be a need for change of direction towards more trust. This lead to the research question as following:
How can a philosophical perspective on the concept of trust and leadership contribute to the discussion on trust-based leadership in the public sector, as this form of leadership is presented in Tina Bentzen's PhD?

The thesis will investigate how philosophy can be applied to trust-based leadership and clarify the research question using the theories off philosophers, K. E Løgstrup and Ole Fogh Kirkeby followed by a discussion using Gadamer’s views on methods. The thesis discusses how the leader, through sentiments, communication and dialogue creates intersubjectivity and thus contributes to the employees' common perception.

Through philosophical perspective, I argued that trust cannot only be established at a governance level since, according to Løgstrup, trust is a human phenomenon. Extending the need for control, so that confidence in its ontological sense also becomes a requirement, where trust must be exhibited in relation to a controlled method, I argue that the trust based leader-ship will not achieve success. The functionalistic and ontological application of the phenomenon of trust is both important and relevant, but its approach and control of it is widely different and differentiation of the two is necessary.
The expectation that one becomes a good leader, if one implements trust-based leadership, does not according to this discussion come from ambition to practice, unless the pre-reflexive and pre-theoretical human behind the leader is taken into account. It is not a question of the order, but of being enlightening to the other's blind point of theoretical and philosophical view.
The importance of this lies not just in the leap, with the approach, but also with human itself.

Publication date3 Jun 2019
Number of pages87
ID: 304997599