Institutional Trust and the Effectiveness of Public Institutions


 Putting trust at the crossing of the uncertainty, risk, and costs any given relationship may entail is a necessary step to grasp the bearing trust has on the way relationships take shape and evolve. Next, however, attention needs to focus on how trust interplays with the specific characteristics of a relationship and with those of the actors involved. The paper is about how trust counts in the relationships that for whatever reason go on in ordinary life between single actors and all kinds of public institutions set up to implement a given set of rules (laws, norms of different kinds) addressed to the public regulation of a specific aspect of social life.
 Based on these premises, the discussion focuses on the way in which trust is related to two main characteristics of these relationships: the way rules count and the role played by the subjects called to implement them. In principle the content of the relationship between an individual actor and a given public institution is expected not to be the outcome of a negotiation but rather reflect the definite enforcement of a given set of rules. The actual content, however, deviates from this expectation, if for no other reason, because not all individual actors grant the same legitimacy to the rules and because the implementation of the rules is subject both to the competence and to the intentions of the actors involved – more to the point, to the way in which any public official plays out the discretionary power he/she has in administering the institutional rules. In this light, trust becomes a main factor in explaining why a given deviation occurs, its possible management, and ultimately the effectiveness of public institutions.

Institutional trust

institutional rules

performance of public officials

discretional power in administering institutional rules

effectiveness of public institutions



社会科学研究所年報, 第22号/2017年度, pp.179-200




ISSN: 1343-2125

紀要 論文