Improving Trust in Central Government

A Report for TUNED and EUPAN

by David Tarren,
Working Lives Research Institute, London

June 2009


It would be difficult to argue that in participative democracies it is unimportant that citizens trust their elected governments and parliaments, precisely because these are the bodies ultimately responsible for issuing policies and passing legislation in line with their pledges to the population at election time. So it follows that it is also important for citizens to trust those who are responsible for the delivery these policies and laws – the Central Public Administrations.

However the very notion of ‘trust’ is subjective and is therefore difficult to measure and results from opinion polls and qualitative research sometimes represent an inaccurate portrayal of the relationships between citizens and those that provide public services. For instance research from the UK has highlighted that there is a difference between citizens’ views about the service they have received and their views of the institution that provided the service . The research showed the general public’s satisfaction rating with National Health Service (NHS) outpatient treatment was 54 per cent in 2005, yet amongst recent users of these services satisfaction levels rose to 85 per cent . In addition, citizens’ views can often be influenced by the media as well as their own experience and so the views between trust and experience are not necessarily identical. Given that, a better service may not necessarily result in greater trust from service users of their central government administrations. However research by Eurobarometer demonstrates that trust in European institutions and central government administrations is low and it would be wrong to ignore this data, despite the often contradictory nature of views and experiences voiced by service users.

This research, funded by the European Commission, has been commissioned by EUPAN and TUNED within the framework of the Social Dialogue test-phase for the central government administrations specifically to investigate how and what role social dialogue can play in improving trust primarily between the social partners in central administration and, as an effect of this, in increasing trust from citizens.


- Introduction

- Research and Methodology

- Executive Summary

- Chapter 1 – ‘Citizen Trust’

- Chapter 2 – Social Dialogue

- Chapter 3 – Issues affecting central government administrations

- Chapter 4 – Social Dialogue and dealing with change

- Information, consultation and transparency

- Competency development and training

- Equality and diversityConclusions

- Recommendations

- Appendix A – Country Profiles
- Appendix B – Questionnaire

For the full report (EN/FR/DE)

For the Executive Summary (CZ/SV/NL/ES):