Experiencing trust in multiagency collaboration to prevent violent extremism: A Nordic qualitative study


  • Randi Solhjell The Norwegian Police University College
  • Jennie Sivenbring University of Gothenburg
  • Mari Kangasniemi University of Turku
  • Hanna Kallio University of Turku
  • Tina Wilchen Christensen Aarhus University
  • Håvard Haugstvedt University of Oslo
  • Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik The Norwegian Police University College


Nordic Countries, Interviews, Multiagency Collaboration, Thematic Analysis, Trust, Violent Extremism, P/CVE


In previous studies, multiagency collaboration was identified as a key strategy for early intervention in violent extremism. However, there has been little focus on professionals’ shared communication to support collaboration. The aim of this study was to describe trust in multiagency collaboration teams in the Nordic countries tasked with preventing violent extremism. The data have been collected through simulated case discussions for groups (N=13) and individual interviews (N=78) with multiagency professionals in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden and analyzed using the thematic analysis method. Based on our results, trust emerged on 1) structural, 2) professional and 3) perceived personal levels. In addition, we identified facilitators and barriers for building trust at these levels. To fully understand the potential of trust, we argue that there is a need to take into account all these three levels of trust. Finally, we find that particularized trust can function as a foundation for building generalized trust. In future, more knowledge is needed about how to enable and manage trust with multiagency collaboration at organizational, but also national and international, level.


This article is part of a research project titled Handling Extremism - Nordic Approaches (HEX-NA), funded by NordForsk, and financial contributors to the project include the Norwegian Police University College, University of Gothenburg, University of Aarhus, University of Turku and the University of Oslo.


ALLEA 2017. European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. All European Academics.

ATKINSON, M., JONES, M. & LAMONT, E. 2007. Multi-agency working and its implications for practice: A review of the literature Berkshire: The National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales.

BATTALIANA, J., BESHAROV, M. & MITZINNEK 2007. On Hybrids and Hybrid Organizing: A Review and Roadmap for Future Research In: GREENWOOD, R., OLIVER, C., LAWRENCE, T. B. & MEYER, R. E. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: Sage

BJØRGO, T. 2016. Counter-terrorism as crime prevention: a holistic approach. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 8, 25-44.

BJØRNSKOV, C. & SVENDSEN, G. T. 2013. Does social trust determine the size of the welfare state? Evidence using historical identification. Public Choice, 157, 269-286.

BOHNSACK, R. 2004. Group Discussion and Focus Groups. In: FLICK, U., VON KARDOFF, E. & STEINKE, I. (eds.) A Companion to Qualitative Research. London: Sage

BRAUN, V. & CLARKE, V. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101.

BRYSON, J. M., CROSBY, B. C. & STONE, M. M. 2006. The Design and Implementation of Cross-Sector Collaborations: Propositions from the Literature. Public Administration Review, 66, 44-55.

BUCHBINDER, E. & EISIKOVITS, Z. 2008. Collaborative discourse: The case of police and social work relationships in intimate violence intervention in Israel. Journal of Social Service Research, 34, 1-13.

BYRNE, B. 2018. Qualitative interviewing. In: SEALE, C. (ed.) Researching society and culture. London: Sage.

CHUN, R. P. K., CHUI, Y. H., CHAN, Y. C. & CHENG, H. C. H. 2010. Police work with youth-at-risk: What can social work contribute? The Hong Kong Journal of Social Work, 44, 31-48.

CLUBB, G., KOEHLER, D., SCHEWE, J. & O’CONNOR, R. 2021. Selling De-Radicalisation: Managing the Media Framing of Countering Violent Extremism, London: Routledge.

COOPER, M., EVANS, Y. & PYBIS, J. 2016. Interagency collaboration in children and young people's mental health: a systematic review of outcomes, facilitating factors and inhibiting factors. Child Care Health Dev, 42, 325-42.

CURNIN, S., OWEN, C., PATON, D., TRIST, C. & PARSONS, D. 2015. Role Clarity, Swift Trust and Multi-Agency Coordination. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 23, 29-35.

DALGAARD-NIELSEN, A. 2016. Countering Violent Extremism with Governance Networks. Perspectives on Terrorism, 10, 135-139.

DELHEY, J. & NEWTON, K. 2005. Predicting Cross-National Levels of Social Trust: Global Pattern or Nordic Exceptionalism? European Sociological Review, 21, 311-327.

DUDAU, A., FISCHBACHER-SMITH, D. & MCALLISTER, L. 2016. The Unsung Heroes of Welfare Collaboration: Complexities around individuals’ contribution to effective inter-agency working in LSCBs. Public Management Review, 18, 1536-1558.

EDWARDS, A., DANIELS, H., GALLAGHER, T., LEADBETTER, J. & WARMINGTON, P. 2009. Improving Inter-professional Collaborations: Multi-Agency Working for Children's Wellbeing, London: Taylor & Francis.

ELLIS, B. H., MILLER, A. B., SCHOUTEN, R., AGALAB, N. Y. & ABDI, S. M. 2020. The Challenge and Promise of a Multidisciplinary Team Response to the Problem of Violent Radicalization. Terrorism and Political Violence, 1-18.

ELLIS, B. H., SIDERIDIS, G., MILLER, A. B., ABDI, S. M. & WINER, J. P. 2021. Trauma, Trust in Government, and Social Connection: How Social Context Shapes Attitudes Related to the Use of Ideologically or Politically Motivated Violence. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 44, 1050-1067.

ERVASTI, H., TORBEN FRIDBERG, MIKAEL HJERM & RINGDAL, K. 2008. Nordic Social Attitudes in a European Perspective, Cheltenham Edward Elgar Publishing, Incorporated.

EVS 2021. EVS Trend File 1981-2017. GESIS Datenarchiv, Köln. ZA7503 Datenfile Version 2.0.0, https://doi.org/10.4232/1.13736.

FORD, K., NEWBURY, A., MEREDITH, Z., EVANS, J., HUGHES, K., RODERICK, J., DAVIES, A. R. & BELLIS, M. A. 2020. Understanding the outcome of police safeguarding notifications to social services in South Wales. The Police Journal, 93, 87-108.

FREITAG, M. & TRAUNMÜLLER, R. 2009. Spheres of trust: An empirical analysis of the foundations of particularised and generalised trust. European Journal of Political Research, 48, 782-803.

GASKELL, G. 2000. Individual and Group interviewing. In: BAUER, M. & GASKELL, G. (eds.) Qualitative researching with text, image and sound. London: Sage.

GILL, R. & THOMPSON, M. M. 2017. Trust and Information Sharing in Multinational–Multiagency Teams. In: GOLDENBERG, I., SOETERS, J. & DEAN, W. H. (eds.) Information Sharing in Military Operations. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

GILLMAN, K. M. & FREUND, A. M. 2021. Early Prevention of Extremism Through Multi-Agency Use of the Model for Assessment for Concerns About Extremism (MACE). In: R. CORRADO, G. WÖSSNER & MERARI, A. (eds.) Terrorism Risk Assessment Instruments: Contemporary Policy and Law Enforcement Challenges. Amsterdam: IOS Press.

GOODKIND, J. R., ROSS-TOLEDO, K., JOHN, S., HALL, J. L., ROSS, L., FREELAND, L., COLETTA, E., BECENTI-FUNDARK, T., POOLA, C., ROANHORSE, R. & LEE, C. 2011. Rebuilding trust: a community, multiagency, state, and university partnership to improve behavioral health care for American Indian Youth, their families, and communities. Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 452-477.

GØTZSCHE-ASTRUP, O., LINDEKILDE, L. & FJELLMAN, A.-M. 2021. Perceived Legitimacy of CVE Policies and the Willingness to Report Concerns of Radicalization to Authorities in the Nordic Countries. Terrorism and Political Violence, 1-17.

HARRIS, A. & ALLEN, T. 2011. Young people’s views of multi‐agency working. British Educational Research Journal, 37, 405-419.

HAUGSTVEDT, H. & TUASTAD, S. E. 2021. “It Gets a Bit Messy”: Norwegian Social Workers’ Perspectives on Collaboration with Police and Security Service on Cases of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 1-17.

HUBBARD, G. & THEMESSL-HUBER, M. 2005. Professional perceptions of joint working in primary care and social care services for older people in Scotland. J Interprof Care, 19, 371-85.

JENSEN, C. & SVENDSEN, G. T. 2011. Giving money to strangers: European welfare states and social trust. International Journal of Social Welfare, 20, 3-9.

KALLIO, H., PIETILÄ, A. M., JOHNSON, M. & KANGASNIEMI, M. 2016. Systematic methodological review: developing a framework for a qualitative semi-structured interview guide. J Adv Nurs, 72, 2954-2965.

KEAST, R. 2016. Shining a light on the black box of collaboration: Mapping the prerequisites for cross-sector working. In: BUTCHER, J. R. & GILCHRIST, D. J. (eds.) The three sector solution: Delivering public policy in collaboration with not-for-profits and business. Canberra: ANU Press

KVALE, S. & BRINKMANN, S. 2009. InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing, London: SAGE Publications.

LAMB, J. B. 2012. Preventing Violent Extremism; A Policing Case Study of the West Midlands. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 7, 88-95.

LARSEN, C. A. 2007. How Welfare Regimes Generate and Erode Social Capital: The Impact of Underclass Phenomena. Comparative Politics, 40, 83-101.

MAZEROLLE, L., CHERNEY, A., EGGINS, E., HINE, L. & HIGGINSON, A. 2021. Multiagency programs with police as a partner for reducing radicalisation to violence. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 17, e1162.

NGUYEN, N. 2019. “The Eyes and Ears on Our Frontlines”: Policing without Police to Counter Violent Extremism. Surveillance and Society, 17, 322–337.

NOWELL, L. S., NORRIS, J. M., WHITE, D. E. & MOULES, N. J. 2017. Thematic Analysis:Striving to Meet the Trustworthiness Criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16, 1-13.

O’CONNOR, C. & JOFFE, H. 2020. Intercoder Reliability in Qualitative Research: Debates and Practical Guidelines. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19, 1-13.

ROTHSTEIN, B. & STOLLE, D. 2008. The State and Social Capital: An Institutional Theory of Generalized Trust. Comparative Politics, 40, 441-459.

SAMPSON, A., STUBBS, P., SMITH, D., PEARSON, G. & BLAGG, H. 1988. Crime, localities and the multi-agency approach. The British Journal of Criminology, 28, 478-493.

SARMA, K. M. 2018. Multi-agency working and preventing violent extremism I. RAN Issue Paper. Brussels: RAN.

SCHWARTZ-SHEA, P. & YANOW, D. 2013. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes, London: Taylor & Francis.

SEIFERT, N. 2018. Yet Another Case of Nordic Exceptionalism? Extending Existing Evidence for a Causal Relationship Between Institutional and Social Trust to the Netherlands and Switzerland. Social Indicators Research, 136, 539-555.

SIVENBRING, J. & ANDERSSON MALMROS, R. 2021. Collaboration in Hybrid Spaces: The Case of Nordic Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism. Journal for Deradicalization, 29, 54-91.

SIZOO, B., DOOSJE, B. & VAN MEIJEL, B. 2022. Perceptions of radicalisation in mental health care and the security domain: roles, responsibilities, and collaboration. Psychology, Crime & Law, 1-18.

SLOPER, P. 2004. Facilitators and barriers for co-ordinated multi-agency services. Child Care, Health and Development, 30, 571-580.

STEPHENS, W., SIECKELINCK, S. & BOUTELLIER, H. 2021. Preventing Violent Extremism: A Review of the Literature. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 44, 346-361.

STRYPE, J., GUNDHUS, H. I., EGGE, M. & ØDEGÅRD, A. 2014. Perceptions of Interprofessional Collaboration. Professions and Professionalism, 4.

SVENDSEN, G. T. & BJØRNSKOV, C. 2007. How to construct a robust measure of social capital: Two contributions. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 9, 275-292.

TSANTEFSKI, M., WILDE, T., YOUNG, A. & O’LEARY, P. 2018. Inclusivity in Interagency Responses to Domestic Violence and Child Protection. Australian Social Work, 71, 202-214.

USLANER, E. M. 2008. The foundations of trust: macro and micro. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 32, 289-294.

WALTERS, R. 1996. The'dream'of multi-agency crime prevention : pitfalls in policy and practice. In: HOMEL, R. (ed.) The Politics and Practice of Situational Crime Prevention. Monsey, N.Y.: Criminal Justice Press.

WEBER, L. R. & CARTER, A. I. 2012. The Social Construction of Trust, Springer US.

WESTWOOD, J. L. 2012. Constructing Risk and Avoiding Need: Findings from Interviews with Social Workers and Police Officers Involved in Safeguarding Work with Migrant Children. Child Abuse Review, 21, 349-361.

ØSTERUD, Ø. 2005. Introduction: The peculiarities of Norway. West European Politics, 28, 705-720.