Concerns for restoring citizens’ trust in government are at the core of public sector modernization. Public distrust is often blamed on the bad functioning of public services, and in political discourse well-functioning public services are said to create trust in government. This is a very rational and mechanistic reasoning, only part of which corresponds to reality. The link between performance and trust can only be made when very specific conditions are present. The core of the discussion deals with causality: it is obvious that performance of the public administration has a certain impact on trust in government, but existing levels of trust in government may also have an impact on perceptions of government performance. In this article, we outline a framework for research on this performance-trust relation.

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International Journal of Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Van de Walle, S., & Bouckaert, G. (2003). Public service performance and trust in government: the problem of causality. International Journal of Public Administration, 29(8 & 9), 891–913. doi:10.1081/PAD-120019352