In Public Administration scholarship, we have seen an increase in studies using public opinion and survey data to analyse citizen trust and public attitudes to the public sector, public services, public officials and government. At the same time, the number of datasets is increasing. Yet, this research is far less integrated than is the case for other opinion research, e.g. on regional integration, welfare states or migration. Furthermore, public administration scholars generally have to rely on secondary datasets.
The IIAS Study Group on Trust and Public Attitudes aims to be an intellectual platform and meeting place for debate among public administration and management researchers analysing public attitudes. The Study group will not only invest in analysis, but will also stimulate the exchange of ideas with relevant government organisations.
The balance between trust and distrust is shifting - yet again. The move towards public sector reforms inspired by the New Public Management (NPM) from the 1980s on introduced a series of innovations that might be argued to be based on mutual distrust between public sector actors (Van de Walle, 2010). NPM-style reforms created a situation where trust was regarded as naïve, highlighting its dysfunctional aspects. More recently, trust has been rediscovered as a functional phenomenon facilitating interactions, reducing transaction costs, and creating innovation. At the same time, public distrust towards government and public administration has remained solidly on the agenda.
The NIG Colloquium on trust in Public Administration aims to bring together scholars based on three trust research clusters in Public Administration. It aims to integrate research efforts currently undertaken as part of several large research projects, and to broaden the scope of these projects to all interested researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands. It will strengthen the coherence of Dutch and Belgian trust research as well as its international impact.