Public transparency and governmental trust: contextualization and possible relationships of these themes.

Public transparency constitutes a relevant and notoriously necessary issue in the accounts of public entities and their component bodies in public administration. In addition to ensuring compliance with legal norms, transparency initiatives constitute a responsible management policy that favors the exercise of citizenship by the population (PLATT NETO et al., 2007).

            Likewise, when we focus on the context of government trust, it is observed that trust in public institutions is the belief/faith that public institutions will provide the results requested of them and that they will act efficiently (NUNKOO et al., 2012), being a type of relationship in which the institution is trustworthy, and the citizen trusts the rules, roles, and regulations of the institution (SMITH, 2010).

            Whether real or perceived, the decline in citizens’ trust in government is considered one of the main drivers of New Public Management reforms (VAN DE WALLE, 2011). This political and institutional mistrust scenario presents the lack of accountability and transparency as one of the causalities in studies on this subject (POWER; JAMISON, 2005).

            Thus, when we relate these two themes, the international debate on public transparency and government trust appears to present divergent positions. For example:

* Some studies present optimistic positions in which transparency strengthens citizen confidence (HOOD, 2006);

*  Other authors emphasize that more transparency can cause uncertainty and confusion among the public ( O’NEIL, 2002);

*  It may have no effect because other determinants of trust in government are more important (ROBERTS, 2006); or

*  The positive effects of transparency on trust in government are, at best, limited (DE FINE LICHT, 2011; GRIMMELIKHUIJSEN, 2012).

            In this sense, given the possible indifferences, limitations, and positive or negative aspects of research results in the international scenario, it is also relevant to consider in this debate the national scenario on the subject, the field of study, and the perspective of the main users involved in this process.

            Finally, to learn more about the relationship between government trust and public transparency, follow the subsequent publications that will also bring more information about the main effects of public transparency on government trust.


DE FINE LICHT, Jenny. Do we really want to know? The potentially negative effect of transparency in decision making on perceived legitimacy. Scandinavian Political Studies, v. 34, n. 3, p. 183-201, 2011. 

GRIMMELIKHUIJSEN, Stephan. Linking transparency, knowledge and citizen trust in government: An experiment. International Review of Administrative Sciences, v. 78, n. 1, p. 50-73, 2012.

HOOD, Christopher; HEALD, David. Beyond exchanging first principles? Some closing comments. Oxford University Press, 2006. 

NUNKOO, Robin; RAMKISSOON, Haywantee; GURSOY, Dogan. Public trust in tourism institutions. Annals of Tourism Research, v. 39, n. 3, p. 1538-1564, 2012.

O’NEILL, Onora. A question of trust: The BBC Reith Lectures 2002. Cambridge University Press, 2002. 

PLATT NETO, O. A. P. et al. Publicidade e Transparência das Contas Públicas: obrigatoriedade e abrangência desses princípios na administração pública brasileira. Contabilidade Vista & Revista, Belo Horizonte, v. 18, n. 1, p. 75–94, mar. 2007. 

POWER, Timothy J.; JAMISON, Giselle D. Desconfiança política na América Latina. Opinião pública, v. 11, n. 1, p. 64-93, 2005.

ROBERTS, Alasdair. Governmental Adaptation to Transparency Rules. In Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?Edited by Christopher Hood and David Heald, 107–44, 2006.

SMITH, Matthew L. Building institutional trust through e‐government trustworthiness cues. Information Technology & People, 2010.

VAN DE WALLE, Steven. NPM: Restoring the public trust through creating distrust? In: The Ashgate research companion to new public management. Routledge, 2016. p. 325-336.

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