11 April 2011

Last week Professor Rowena Cullen’s paper on trust in Government in the digital age was published on line by SSRS. She has a Chair at the School of Information Management at VUW. The paper, written with Siggi Jottkants of NMIT, observes how government use of IT to communicate with citizens is transformational but its effectiveness depends on public trust in government. The paper includes a succinct review of literature on trust in government, and proposes a model  based on the intersect between trust in government and trust in the online environment. The authors advance their model as a support at a time when public confidence in government is declining.

New Zealand gets a mention, and the paper concludes with reference to Barnes and Gill research in 2000 about declining public confidence in government.  The statistics used by Barnes and Gill were from the 1995 World Values study. No mention is made of the subsequent, 2005, study in the World Values series which found the trend reported by Barnes and Gill had reversed. By 2005, in New Zealand, public confidence in government was little different from 1985 levels – in 2005 46.9% of respondents said they has a “great deal or a lot of confidence in the Government”. That survey shows a considerably greater number had “a great deal of confidence” than the 2.5% reported in 1995.  Similarly, in 2005, public confidence in Parliament was at 45.6% whereas Barnes and Gill used a 1995 figure of 10%.

The paper did however use the latest (2009) Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index figures indicating that New Zealand is seen, equally with Singapore, as having the least corrupt public administration.