By Kaifeng YangThe trust that public administrators put in citizens is an important consideration in citizen participation. If they do not trust citizens, it becomes difficult to formulate and implement policies that really engage, empower, and emancipate them. This study attempts to answer four questions: Is public officials’ trust in citizens relevant and important? Is it a valid construct that can be differentiated from other constructs? What factors influence its level? And how does trust influence citizen involvement efforts? Based on a survey of 320 public administrators, the study finds that public administrators’ trust in citizens is relevant and that it is a predictor of proactive citizen involvement efforts. Public administrators generally have a neutral (neither trustful nor distrustful) view of citizens. Finally, factors affecting the level of trust are identified at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.
Public Administration Review Volume 65 Issue 3 Page 273 – May 2005