Skip Navigation

Research on Trust

Trust and Public Policy: How Better Governance Can Help Rebuild Public Trust

Trust plays a very tangible role in the effectiveness of government. Few perceptions are more palpable than that of trust or its absence. Governments ignore this at their peril. Yet, public trust has been eroding just when policy makers need it most, given persistent unemployment, rising inequality and a variety of global pressures. This report examines the influence of trust on policy making and explores some of the steps governments can take to strengthen public trust.



Development without Conflict: The Business Case for Community Consent

This report examines the premise that the informed consent of a community affected by development projects, either public or private, makes good business sense. It argues that the risks created by not obtaining community consent are significant and quantifiable, as are the benefits obtained with meaningful consultation. The principle of free, prior, informed consent is still evolving. This paper explores its many facets and the potential implications for the projects that corporations and governments undertake, especially in developing countries. The examples this report presents illustrate the power of strongly mobilized public opinion. A community ignored or scorned can exact a significant financial price in the present and impose opportunity costs for a company in the future.



Why Do Voters Lose Trust in Governments? Public Perceptions of Government Honesty and Trustworthiness in Britain 2000–2013

The aim of this article is to analyse trends in public perceptions of the honesty and trustworthiness of British governments over the period 2000 to 2013, years of great political and economic change in British society. These perceptions are surprisingly volatile over time, but they are stimulated by general elections and even more so by a change of government. Perceptions of government honesty can be understood to be the product of both policy delivery and public attitudes to the way democracy works in Britain. If individuals feel that economic policies and the delivery of public services are working well and also that democracy is effective, then they will trust the government of the day. In addition perceptions of government trustworthiness are strongly influenced by the public’s evaluations of the Prime Minister, since the voters use this as a heuristic to judge the honesty of a government.



Predictors and Extent of Institutional Trust in Government, Banks, the Media and Religious Organisations: Evidence from Cross-Sectional Surveys in Six Asia-Pacific Countries

This paper focuses on institutional trust–the level and predictors of trust in some of the major institutions in society, namely politics, the media, banks, the legal system and religious organisations. We present analyses from a consolidated dataset containing data from six countries in the Asia Pacific region–Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. We interpreted our data using Fukuyama’s theory of ‘high/low trust’ societies. The levels of institutional trust in each society did not conform to our hypothesis, with Thailand exhibiting the highest trust (predicted to be medium level), Hong Kong and Japan exhibiting medium trust (predicted to be low and high respectively) and Australia and South Korea exhibiting low trust (predicted to be high and medium respectively). Taiwan was the only country where the actual and predicted trust was the same, namely low trust. Given the fact that these predictors crossed national boundaries and institutional types, further research and policy should focus specifically on improving trust within these groups in order that they can be empowered to play a more central role in democratic vitality.



The Effect of Transparency on Trust in Government: A Cross-National Comparative Experiment

Transparency is considered a key value for trustworthy governments. However, the effect of transparency on citizens’ trust across national cultures is overlooked in current research. This article compares the effect of transparency on trust in government in the Netherlands and South Korea. The effect is investigated in two similar series of three experiments. The authors hypothesize that the effect of transparency differs because the countries have different cultural values regarding power distance and short- and long-term orientation. Results reveal similar patterns in both countries: transparency has a subdued and sometimes negative effect on trust in government. However, the negative effect in South Korea is much stronger. The difference in the magnitude of transparency’s effect suggests that national cultural values play a significant role in how people perceive and appreciate government transparency.

Open Government Partnership