Details of Colloquia

Trust in Public Administration


  • Prof. Dr. Geert Bouckaert, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute
  • Prof. Dr. Steven Van de Walle, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Dr. Frédérique Six, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Operational support

Peter Oomsels, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute

Description of the colloquium on Trust in Public Administration

The balance between trust and distrust is shifting yet again. 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.

Trust can be considered as a feature of interactions between individuals, between organisations and between institutions, which affects their relationships. Since Public Administration scholarship focuses on many such interactions in many directions, we summarise these relationships in three clusters:

  1. Trust of citizens and organisations in government and the public sector (T1);
  2. Trust of government and the public sector in citizens and organisations (T2);
  3. Inter-organisational and inter-personal trust within government and the public sector (T3).

Objective of the colloquium on Trust in Public Administration

The Colloquium aims to bring together Public Administration scholars around these clusters to:

  • Empirically analyse citizen attitudes towards public services and trust in public administration;
  • Develop models to understand levels and drivers of trust between public sector organisations
  • Integrate trust literature in the fields of organisation studies, political science and public administration
  • Compare levels of public trust and attitudes to public services across countries and jurisdictions, and identify factors explaining cross-national or cross-jurisdictional variations;
  • Critically approach the concepts of trust and distrust as phenomena that have both functional and dysfunctional characteristics in the context of public administration research.

News from the colloquium on Trust in Public Administration

Colloquium news can be checked on the colloquium’s website

Agenda of the colloquium on Trust in Public Administration

  • Fall 2015: Study day on interorganisational trust in public administration for civil servants (Brussels)
  • November 2015: Colloquium convenes at 2015 NIG work conference
  • June 2015: Colloquium chairs contribute to IIAS congress on trust in public administration

Output of the colloquium on Trust in Public Administration

  • 11 February 2014: international workshop on public officials’ trust in citizens, Rotterdam, with invited international participants
  • 9-10 September 2014: the colloquium was a co-organiser of the IIAS workshop on experimental methods, with a focus on trust and public attitudes. It was organised prior to the EGPA conference in Speyer
  • Research presented at the colloquium on trust in Public administration:
    • Van Sluis & Van de Walle: “The significance of police-citizen contacts for citizens’ trust in the police in the Netherlands”
    • Karens & Eshuis & Klijn: “Public Branding and Trust in Policy: analyzing the effect of EU policy branding on trust in EU policies through experimental research design”
    • Oomsels, Bouckaert & Verhoest: “Exploring administrational trust in Flanders: Sources of inter-organizational trust and distrust in the Flemish public administration”
    • Tummers, Weske, Bouwman & Grimmelikhuijsen: “An experimental study on the impact of red tape on citizen satisfaction”
    • Raaphorst: “Public officials’ expectiations about citizens’ unknown intentions and behaviour. The role of trust in the public encounter”
    • Keulemans: “Toward a Conceptualization of Public Officials’ Attitudes toward their Citizen-Clients”
    • Vanschoenwinkel: “Trust in justice: Degree and antecedents of trust in the criminal justice chain”
    • Denters & Bakker: “Trust in Local Government amongst participants in Citizens’ Initiatives: Results form a survey in the Dutch province of Overijssel”
    • Oomsels & Bouckaert: Reasons to trust, reasons to distrust:
How are interorganisatonal trust and distrust judgements embedded in the Flemish public administration?
    • Reichow: Effective Regulation and Scientific Uncertainty: Exploring Trust in Collaborative Networks
    • Callens, Bouckaert & Parmentier: Intra- and Interorganisational Trust in a Judicial Context: An Exploratory Case Study
    • Six, Lünneman & Bannink: Governance of simultaneously complex and conflictuous tasks: the case of dealing with (risks of) child sexual abuse in Dutch care homes
    • Rys: Citizens or customers? A bottom-up communicative perspective on New Public Management