T18P03 - Trust, Transparency and Public Policy

Topic : Others

Panel Chair : Alistair Cole - alistair.cole@sciencespo-lyon.fr

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1 Trust and transparency

Discussants

Alistair Cole - alistair.cole@sciencespo-lyon.fr - Sciences Po, Lyon - France

Beyond openness and financial integrity: the need for a democratic assessment of local government

Christine Cheyne - C.M.Cheyne@massey.ac.nz - Massey University - New Zealand

 

The 30th anniversary of open government legislation for local government in New Zealand in July 2017 is likely to pass largely unnoticed.  New Zealand has scored favourably in rankings of transparency and corruption and it is often noted that local government in New Zealand is more subject to prescriptive transparency requirements than central government. For example, strict legislative provisions govern how local councils consult their communities and ensure that the public can attend council and committee meetings. A similar level of transparency is not applied to the Executive and to central government institutions in making their own decisions.  Many are made “behind closed doors’ and are not subject to public consultation requirements. While there is potential for integrity breaches by either local elected members or council employees, these are rare. 

 

Yet, changing practices around public participation and new digital technologies are generating elevated expectations and new opportunities for both transparency of, and also diminished accountability by, local government.  Assessments of national integrity systems often overlook or give only limited attention to local government.  In addition, it is argued that the institution of the Ombudsman which is supposed to be the guardian of open government legislation for both local and central government, needs to be reformed and to be a more effective advocate for open government at all levels.  Increasingly, there is suspicion about international measures that find New Zealand to have amongst the highest levels of public sector integrity, financial accountability, and overall transparency.  The paper concludes by arguing that, while international comparison is important, relevant benchmarks need to be selected and local government needs to be fully included in an assessment that encompasses not just financial systems but broader democratic processes.

Fairness or Political Trust: Public Acceptance towards Congestion Charge Policy in China

Lingyi Zhou - angel901@163.com - School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University - China

Inhalable particles have become the principal pollution source in China’s majority areas, triggering the severe smog crisis and causing great harm to people’s health. Various level of Chinese governments started designing and implementing smog control policies, directly and indirectly. Among all alternatives, traffic control has been widely adopted as the most efficient and relevant policy instrument in many cities given that road transport is one of the main sources of PM2.5 accounting for approximately 25-30% per year in major cities. Driving restriction policy has already been adopted in many cities, like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xi’an. However, rule-breaking (i.e. driving on plate restricted days) was constant and pervasive, governments intended to adopt new policy instruments such as congestion pricing like Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing.

 

However, public acceptance is an essential prerequisite of congestion charge implementation, representing the legitimacy of policy design. Numerous studies have revealed the determinants of public acceptance towards congestion charge, rooted in psychological (micro-level) and social (meso-level) approach. But these researches are all based on European or American cases, and less has been discussed about public acceptance towards congestion charge in China.While scholars have shown that perceived fairness and trust in government agencies would positively influence public acceptance, far less attention has been given to clarify the causality of political trust and perceived fairness in the mechanism of acceptance formation. On the one hand, some scholars stated high trust in government could improve people’s fair perception, thus enhance their acceptance level (Kim et al., 2013). Whereas, some hold opinions that the assessment of fairness has a casual impact on respondents’ trust for authority, and then improve their willingness to accept policy decision (Grimes, 2006).

 

In light of this literature gap and causality ambiguity, in this paper I use the data collected from Beijing and Shanghai in August 2016, to investigate the determinants of public acceptance towards congestion charge in China and the causality of political trust and perceived fairness in the mechanism of acceptance formation. Specifically, I aim to answer three research questions. First, what factors may influence public acceptance towards congestion charge in China? Second, besides their positive effects on public acceptance towards congestion fee, is there any causality between political trust and perceived fairness in the mechanism of public acceptance? Thirdly, if so, how is the influencing path among political trust, perceived fairness and public acceptance?

 

Using data derived from Beijing and Shanghai in August 2016, I constructed a structural equation model to examine the role of psychological (pro-environmental attitude and WTP) and social factors (traffic inconvenience, political trust, perceived fairness) on public acceptance. The research findings suggest that traffic inconvenience negatively influence public acceptance, while environmental concern, political trust, perceived fairness have positive effects on public acceptance. Especially, by distinguishing procedural fairness (openness and transparency of policy-making process) and distributional fairness (i.e. equality), I find that there exists the path of ‘procedural fairness->political trust->distributional fairness’, thus enhancing public acceptance.

The quest for integrity in the European Union’s financial management: Effectiveness of conflicts of interest regulation in the context of EU structural funds

Thomas Henökl - Thomas.Henokl@gmail.com - University of Agder - Norway

The quest for integrity in the European Union’s financial management:
Effectiveness of conflicts of interest regulation in the context of EU structural funds

 

Joint paper with Prof Christoph Demmke, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen (Germany)

 

In its structural and agricultural funds programmes (ERDF, ESF), the European Union distributes approx. EUR 500 bn of subsidies under shared financial management by EU-level and MS-level managing and implementing authorities. Past investigations by the EU Anti-fraud Office, OLAF or the Court of Auditors regularly produced cases of mismanagement and fraud. Whether ethical problems related to the allocation of funds and administration of programmes is a widespread phenomenon, linked to the flaws in the design of EU integrity provisions, as allegations by critics would have it; or whether the EU policies on ethics and anti-corruption systematically prevent serious abuse, has been very difficult to ascertain. The present paper draws from an empirically well-resourced comparative study of the management of conflicts of interest at several governance and administrative levels involved in the handling of EU structural funds programmes in 10 EU member states, figuring as recipient countries. The findings present a nuanced picture: With regard to existence and implementation of CoI policies, the results of the study point towards persisting problems of effectiveness due to lack of awareness, limited understanding and under- communication of CoI-related rules and procedures. The research, however, also identifies a number of remedies to these problems and documents several cases of good practices to improve the management in of CoI in the administration of public funds.

 

Key words: Conflicts of interest, civil service ethics, public finance, transparency, integrity, trust;
Multi-level administration; European Union, EU structural programs;  

 

Does Good Governance Matter for Institutional Trust? Case From Nepal

Narenda Raj Paudel - narendra.radharam@gmail.com - Central Department of Public Administration - Nepal

The institutional trust is gaining popularity to evaluate the effectiveness of governance system. The assumption behind it is that the legitimized governance system in public and private institutions generates institutional trust. Scholars trace out a number of factors which include economic and socio-demographic factor, performance level of government, critical citizens and good governance determines the level of institutional trust. In this context, the question of research is raised as “does good governance generate institutional trust in Nepal?”.  I correlate governance indicators with the trust variables. The governance indicators are measured by accountability, transparency, rule of law and Citizen’s participation variables of public and private institutions. To map the institutional trust influenced by good governance, data were collected from 34 districts out of 75 districts of Nepal. Altogether, 2404 respondents were identified through multi-stage random sampling to gather data on institutional trust. The study reveals that citizens positively evaluate public institutions if they perceive that public institutions such as the national government, local governments, the police as well as the private sectors institutions are accountable, transparent and responsible, practice rule of law and are inclusive.   

Investigation of informal accountability mechanisms within the institutional landscape of collaborative governance on a case study of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

Ania (Anna) Ankowska - ania.ankowska@hotmail.com - Northumbria University, Newcastle Business School - United Kingdom

Context:

Over recent decades private and public sector interests have been combined in alliances of cross-sectoral character and informally constituted networks and partnerships (Romzek et al 2013, Pugalis and Townsend 2012), altering the traditional role of the state (Kennett 2013, Black 2008). Consequently, public leaders operate within opaque and networked domains, which has prompted questions about representative democracy (Norris 2014) and ongoing dilemmas about the implications of limited democratic accountability (Papadopolous 2007).

 

In 2011, the UK government introduced almost 40 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), business-led entities intended as the new economic governance scalar ‘fix’ (Pugalis and Townsend 2012, p.4) in which private sector actors have been charged with leading role on the strategic economic development policy (Etherington and Jones 2016, Deas 2013). Due to the lack of a degree of commonality, flexible character and fundamental ambiguity around their roles (Doyle 2013), as well as growing remit (NAO 2016), accountability of LEPs has been put as one of the main challenges since their inception (Frost 2013, Rossiter and Price 2013, Chadwick et al 2013). Recognizing the importance of accountability and transparency concerns, in 2014 the government has charged all LEPs with developing a single assurance framework to ensure they have robust value for money processes in place in 2014.

 

The purpose of this research is to explore the approach taken to issues transparency and accountability of contemporary networked governance with the particular focus on informal aspects of trust.

 

Methods and methodology

Research is embedded in qualitative paradigm and takes Greater Manchester (GM) LEP as a case study. Over the period of time of May to November 2016, 26 semi-structured interviews of approximately 45min each have been conducted with the private and  public sector representatives, members of the board of GM LEP, along with Manchester City Council leaders, representatives of growth-related bodies such as Chamber of Commerce and so-called Manchester Familly and councillors involved with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, new statutory bodies that are being created across the UK. Interviews were semi-structured in nature and were complemented by the analysis of documents available such as the assurance framework, or minutes from the meetings.

 

Contribution of the research

The topic remains underexplored as concrete studies of the topic are rare due to the resulting difficulties in adequately assessing accountability, transparency and trust (and the relationship between them) empirically. The research addresses both theoretical and empirical understandings of trust, transparency and accountability as informal mechanisms of decision-making processes. Its particular added value stems from investigation of how informal accountability mechanisms operate within the institutional landscape of collaborative governance, the dynamics of multiple, non-hierarchical accountabilities and inquiry of processes of trust and transparency in multi-level policy contexts.

 

Results of the study

Greater Manchester LEP has decided not to impose any extra formal accountability mechanisms that would enhance the oversight of accountability and transparency issues. Instead, it has been emphasizing the strong informal channels such as values commonly held, mutual trust and confidence, common goals and collaborative working, the long-term history of cooperation and powerful structures in place. Although a number of authors (see for instance Donald et al 2014 or Lowndes and Gardner 2016) have argued that the intensification of informal networks tends to lead to elites creation that are concerned about private benefits, the case of Greater Manchester demonstrates that trust in governance arrangements and transparency of actions of  the people who are involved in decision-making processes is crucial to elimination of the possibility of elite ruling, or serving insider club. Trust is an essential element in the collaborative, multilayered relationships in this informal structure.

Trust, Transparency & Multi-level Governance in the UK, Germany & France: Exploring a mixed methods approach

Alistair Cole - alistair.cole@sciencespo-lyon.fr - Sciences Po, Lyon - France

The general presentation of measures of trust and transparency raises the question: how much do they vary within states, consistent with the tenets of multi-level governance?   The communication sets out preliminary findings from the comparative project ‘Trust, Transparency & Multi-level Governance in the UK, Germany & France. In each member-state, we select one strong identity region (Wales, Brittany, Saxony), and one ‘instrumental’ region (North-West England, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Hesse); this comparative mix allows logically for varying identities, institutional configurations and resource profiles to be captured. In addition to their latent economic fragility, Saxony, Wales and Brittany all have pronounced historical identities. North-West England allows us to capture processes of meso-level convergence and divergence in a context where no formal regional political institutions exist but where new forms of metropolitan governance are taking root; Auvergne Rhone-Alpes and Hesse are regions with less marked historical identities, but more powerful economic and institutional resources, each with a strong metropolis. In each case, the selection of one strong identity, yet economically dependent region, and another more powerful instrumental region allows for within-case comparisons to occur. The paper presents survey data across Europe, as well as the findings of a bespoke survey carried out by You Gov into the new French regions in October 2016.    The originality of the project is to admit the possibility that these trust and transparency mixes might vary as much within as across EU member-states, and that they are variable according to policy sector.

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