CU Transparency and Trust in Government Discussion

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         I chose to analyze what I found to be a rather interesting case study entitled “Transparency and Trust in Government: Evidence From a Survey Experiment.”  The authors utilized an online randomized survey to determine if increased transparency would improve the Argentinian citizens trust in the government.  They believed that this question required an immediate answer because according to Alessandro et al (2021), if citizens do not believe the government will fulfill its promises, or that their fellow citizens will join them in voting against governments that default on their promises, they will not demand policies that expand the provision of public good (p. 108).  This online survey was completed by a total of 1999 participants, all of whom resided in the city of Buenos Aires.  And Argentina as a nation was chosen because the authors believed that the data would be more beneficial coming from citizens already having overall low levels of trust.  Alessandro et al (2021) note that in Argentina, less than 20 percent of the population trust other people, and only 24 percent trust the government (p. 110).

           In this particular experiment, participants randomly received information detailing commitments the Argentinian government made to the citizens of Buenos Aires.  Secondly, they were randomly assigned either an efficiency-based pledge from the government or an empathy-based pledge to improve citizen life.  And lastly, the randomly assigned information received showed that the Argentinian government was either over-performing or under-performing on its commitments.  Unsurprisingly, “the group that received information that the government was over-performing on its goals showed significantly higher trust than those who received information that the government was under-performing on its goals” (Alessandro et al, 2021, p. 111).  When it comes to improving trust in the government, performance matters.  This is furthered by the fact that the authors found no difference in levels of government trust between the efficiency based and empathy-based approaches.

            From an ethical standpoint, regarding the moral principles that govern conduct, the government does have a moral obligation to provide its citizenry with both timely and accurate information with respect to its performance, regardless of the outlook.  Rampant “fake news” and a growing distrust of the media is certainly not a phenomenon singular to the United States.  This only contributes to government distrust and according to Alessandro et al (2021), if citizens believe that only the best results are shown or that there may be “fake news,” the value of the signal falls and the information is dismissed as nothing more than cheap talk (p. 131).  A government that consistently displays responsible stewardship should have no issues providing accurate data to its citizens, allowing them to adequately gauge government integrity, openness, and fairness.  “Providing factual knowledge about government performance outcomes and the intentions of the government could be an important way of increasing citizen trust in government” (Alessandro et al, 2021, p. 109).  

              From a statesmanship standpoint, when it comes to managing public affairs, the results of this survey make it readily apparent that a governments main focus should be on achieving its intended goals.  In actually achieving what they notified the citizens they intended to do, the government is rewarded with increased citizen trust and approval.  This in turn makes it much easier for the government to achieve its other goals moving forward.  Argentina is similar to many other Latin American countries in that government corruption, numerous scandals, and an overall lack of performance has eroded the publics trust in government.  Yet, show them some information displaying that the government is currently over-performing its intended goals and public trust improves immediately.  As Mike Huckabee stated in his November 16, 2019 episode of Huckabee on TBN, “politics is a full contact sport, played without pads, that is not for the faint of heart” (Huckabee, 2019).  That being said, it is still very important that those in government realize that the majority of citizens do not follow government action closely.  In order to both instill and maintain public trust, the government must provide its citizens with accurate information allowing them to adequately shape their perceptions of government performance.  Obtaining the trust of its citizenry is a priority of any successful administration.  And according to Shafritz & Hyde (2017), the history of the world can be viewed as the rise and fall of public administrative institutions (p. 3).

           And lastly, from a governance standpoint, the results of the survey display that the manner of governing is of importance, but in the end results are what really matter to citizens.  The fact of the matter is that citizens of all nations truly want to trust their governments.  “And numerous studies have identified that trust in the institution of government is a key factor in social and economic progress as well as democratic stability” (Alessandro et al, 2021, p. 108).  Governments are not expected to be perfect, but they must prove that they are not inept, free of any scandals, and at least working towards the achievement of their intended goals.  The Lord believed in responsible stewardship and in following through on previous commitments.  In Corinthians 9:6 Paul urged his followers “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (The Holy Bible, NIV, 2011).

Alessandro, M., Lagomarsino, B., Scartascini, C., Streb, J., & Torrealday, J. (2021). Transparency and Trust in Government: Evidence From a Survey Experiment. World Development, 105-223.

Huckabee, M. (2019). A Big Mistake Christians Make in Politics. TBN.…

Shafritz, J. Hyde, A. (2017). Classics of Public Administration. Boston, MA. Cengage Learning.

The Holy Bible New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan Publishing. (Originally Published 1973)

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