Relationships among Governance Quality, Institutional Performance, and (Dis)Trust: Trends and Tensions: A Quest for Critical Ingredients of Institutional Trust
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- Department of Government 
This dissertation analyzes institutional trust, first, in the three South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and then in 32 African countries. These countries were chosen in order to explore why citizens in developing countries trust public institutions despite those institutions’ poor performance. Most of the existing literature on institutional trust indicates that trust in public institutions is contingent on institutional performance and governance quality. This view accords with the rational choice theory and the logic of consequences, with the argument that citizens will evaluate better performance and governance positively, and poor performance and bad governance negatively. These evaluations should be reflected in the citizens’ trust in government institutions. Based on this logic, governmental organizations and agencies, for instance those in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, should enjoy higher institutional trust than do such organizations and agencies that perform poorly, examples being those in non- OECD countries. This is because various public institutions in OECD countries, when they are compared with similar institutions in non-OECD countries, have generally higher performance in a number of areas, for instance in the health and education sectors, and they have better governance. However, certain cross-country surveys (e.g., the World Values Survey and the European Values Study) indicate that public institutions in a number of non- OECD countries, despite their lower performance and poor governance, enjoy higher institutional trust than do comparable institutions in OECD countries. The ‘logic of consequences’ then becomes questionable as an explanatory variable of institutional trust, and the use of rational choice theory becomes problematic as a theoretical lens through which to explain the same phenomenon. This is the point of departure for this dissertation. The articles in this dissertation propose that along with the consequential logic of rational choice theory, additional explanatory variables may be required to explain the empirical inconsistency of inflated trust in the public institutions of under-performing countries. The proposed variable is based on a cultural attribute, more specifically, authoritarian cultural orientation (ACO). This cultural attribute is tested through a country-representative survey called the Governance and Trust Survey 2 (GoT 2), which was administered in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Thereafter, the effects of a similar kind of cultural orientation are explored in 32 African countries using survey data from Afro-barometer. The proposed cultural norm measured by ACO indicates something about people’s degree of unquestioning obedience to authority. People who have higher ACO tend to have a higher degree of institutional trust. This cultural aspect is related to social values and norms, obligations, and commitment, which together are referred to as the ‘logic of appropriateness’, as described by March and Olsen (1996 and 1998). The first three articles in this dissertation explore the importance of the logic of appropriateness in combination with the logic of consequences in explaining institutional trust. Among these three articles, the first two use ACO to try to explain trust in the civil service, while the third tries to explain trust in various other institutions such as the parliament, the police, and the judicial court. All these articles confirm that ACO matters in explaining institutional trust in the sampled countries. In the third article, one key finding is that higher education can contribute to reducing ACO. Education may increase people’s cognitive ability, encourage them to become more assertive, and to question authorities and their actions. This may help reduce the degree of unquestioning obedience, which is the indicator of ACO. Interestingly, the second article finds that people with higher ACO usually assess civil servants positively; they have a comparatively strong belief that civil servants are prompt, efficient, and tend to treat people equally. In the fourth article, which analyzes the same phenomenon in 32 African countries also found that people with higher education have lower institutional trust. Like the articles on South Asia, the fourth article confirms that people with lower assertiveness have higher institutional trust. The relation between low assertiveness and institutional trust therefore parallels the relation between ACO and institutional trust. The fourth article also indicates that people with lower assertiveness believe their country has less governance-related problems (e.g., corruption or unfair treatment) than do people with higher assertiveness. Similarly, people with lower assertiveness think their country is doing better in different performance indicators such as management of the economy and the creation of employment. The focus of the fifth article is slightly different. It tries to explain why the Nepalese anticorruption agency has higher trust than the similar agencies of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – despite the fact that all three countries are characterized by a relatively high level of corruption. This study finds that the Sri Lankan anti-corruption agency is dormant (few anticorruption interventions1), while the Nepalese and Bangladeshi agencies operate selectively. The Nepalese anti-corruption agency has initiated a number of anti-corruption initiatives against the lower-level officials, particularly against the school teachers with fake academic certificates. These actions make the agency more visible to the general public and convince them that the agency is seriously trying to stamp out corruption. This may contribute to the vii higher institutional trust that it enjoys. Since the Nepalese agency has not taken any major steps to curb the corruption of politicians and higher-level bureaucrats, the overall corruption level is yet to be improved there. In Bangladesh, the anti-corruption agency targets both higher-level and lower-level people in the power structure, but does so selectively, mainly directing its attention to members of the opposition party. Thus, this article indicates that perceived performance, which may vary from real performance, may affect institutional trust. The last article is about the possible problem of having an incentive system for credence goods. Credence goods are goods which involve information asymmetry between service providers and consumers. In this situation of information asymmetry, service providers know more about the required nature or quality and quantity of the services than do the consumers. Health services are a good example. In such situations, consumers must depend on the trustworthiness of service providers, and this dependency can make service recipients vulnerable to monetary exploitation. By analyzing the childbirth delivery system of Bangladesh, the study finds that private clinics have a higher level of overtreatment problems (e.g., caesarian delivery without proper medical grounds) than do government and NGO health facilities. This is because private clinics have more incentive to capitalize on information asymmetry, due to their dependency on the earnings from the services they provide.
Has partsArticle I: Hasan Muhammad Baniamin. Linking Performance, Quality of Governance and Trust in the Civil Service: Does Culture Intercede in the Perceived Relationship? (manuscript). Full-text not available.
Article II: Hasan Muhammad Baniamin, Ishtiaq Jamil and Steinar Askvik. (2019). Mismatch between Lower Performance and Higher Trust in Civil Service: Can Culture Provide an Explanation? International Political Science Review; DOI: https://doi.org/ 10.1177/0192512118799756 Full-text not available.
Article III: Ishtiaq Jamil and Hasan Muhammad Baniamin. How May Culture Nurture Institutional Trust? Some Empirical Insights from Two South Asian Countries. (manuscript). Full-text not available.
Article IV: Hasan Muhammad Baniamin. Linking Trust, Performance, and Governance Quality: What Can Explain the Incongruity? (manuscript). Full-text not available.
Article V: Hasan Muhammad Baniamin and Ishtiaq Jamil. (2018). Dynamics of Corruption and Citizens’ Trust in Anti-corruption Agencies in Three South Asian countries. Public Organization Review, 18(3): 381-398; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-017-0384-4. Full-text not available.
Article VI: Hasan Muhammad Baniamin and Ishtiaq Jamil. (2018). Institutional Design for Credence Goods: Can the Existence of Financial Incentives be Problematic? Evidence from the Childbirth System of Bangladesh. International Journal of Public Administration, 41(14): 1192-1203; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01900692.2017.1362434. Full-text not available.