In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

6 Political Effects: Trust in Government [W]hile there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes. —Pericles’ Funeral Oration1 This chapter examines the effects of personnel systems on trust in government . The first section considers the role of trust in government in democratization and hypothesizes the effects that dismissal, exposure, confession, and other variables may have on trust in government. In order to test these effects, we devised an original experimental vignette that manipulated the methods upon which personnel systems were based, namely, dismissal, exposure, and confession. The experimental vignette was embedded in nationwide representative surveys conducted in the Czech Republic, Hungary , and Poland in 2007. The experimental setting of the survey is described in the second section. The third section presents the results of the statistical analyses of our survey experiment. The final section discusses our research findings. PAGE 165 ................. 18039$ $CH6 06-09-11 09:18:32 PS 166 Chapter 6 Personnel Systems and Trust in Government The establishment of loyal, efficient, and trustworthy administration is critical for the operation of any democratic system. The objective attributes of the state apparatus as well as their subjective perceptions by citizens affect law enforcement, public safety, tax collection, public service delivery, and other government functions. A degree of trust in the political regime and its representatives fosters citizens’ compliance and ethical reciprocity, thus helping sustain democracy.2 As trust has been associated with democracy, autocratic regimes have been associated with widespread mistrust.3 Autocracies are typically characterized by abuses of power, pervasive secrecy, lack of accountability, and other attributes, which are generally considered as impediments to trust.4 In the context of regime transition, a number of scholars have warned that the culture of endemic distrust may spill over to shape the attitudes of citizens toward the new democratic state.5 How to rebuild trust in government is thus an important issue confronting transitional societies. Trust is one of the most hotly debated topics in the social sciences. Although scholars disagree about its origin and the degree of its relevance, they usually distinguish between trust in government and interpersonal trust.6 The former describes a vertical relationship of trust in abstract institutions, while the latter is horizontal and captures relations among people. Here we are interested in trust in government, which according to Hetherington has been broadly defined as ‘‘a basic evaluative orientation toward the government founded on how well the government is operating according to people’s normative expectations.’’7 According to Ken Newton, political trust is ‘‘the belief that those in authority and with power will not deliberately or willingly do us harm, if they can avoid it, and will look after our interests, if this is possible.’’8 The minimalistic nature of the second definition captures the problem of trust in transitional countries, in which citizens have experienced the abuse of power that was deliberately committed by previous regimes. At the same time, the conditionality allows a certain degree of mistrust that may be healthy for the operation of every society because, as Russell Hardin reminds us, complete trust is not always a good thing.9 There has been limited consensus in the literature about the political effects that personnel systems have on trust in government. Owing to the relative novelty of transitional justice and the paucity of empirical research in the field during its first decade, different theories, which often contradict each PAGE 166 ................. 18039$ $CH6 06-09-11 09:18:32 PS Political Effects 167 other, have been developed. For each personnel system, one can find a large body of academic literature that theorizes its positive effects and another, equally plausible literature that theorizes its negative effects. Although scholars in principle agree on the need to assess the utility of personnel systems in terms of their prospects for achieving democracy, they often reach contradictory conclusions about the political effects of each system. The theoretical perspective proposed in Chapter 2 enables us to review existing theorizations on personnel...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.