Fatal remedies. How dealing with policy conflict can backfire in a context of trust-erosion


This article investigates the relation between policy conflict and trust erosion. We find that in a trust-erosion context, practices to deal with conflict may backfire and lead to further conflict escalation. The article draws on an in-depth analysis of 32 narrative interviews in a conflict over a contested multibillion- euro highway project in Antwerp (Belgium). Actors all attribute conflict escalation to a failure of “obtaining public support,” but they tell three different stories of how public support was lost. Based on these stories, policymakers resorted to two practices to obtain support, which we term “branding” and “bargaining.” We find that these practices were unsuccessful because they did not take trust-erosion into account, thereby contributing to more trust-erosion and further conflict escalation. Practices intended to end conflict proved to be fatal remedies

In Governance