Open Access

Transparency and Trust in Government (2007–2014): A Comparative Study

NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy's Cover Image
NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy
Openness, Transparency and Ethics in Public Administration: Do they Support Each Other?


This article exposes contemporary approaches to transparency and trust. It explores the links between the two concepts in 10 countries between 2007 and 2014, using open-data indexes and access-to-information requests as proxies for transparency. So far, most studies have focused on conceptual models, specific aspects of transparency in particular case studies or have compared legal frameworks from different countries. Here, data about citizens’ requests to get access to administrative documents have been gathered. This dataset, combined with existing indexes on open data and government, has enabled us to establish a national ranking, particularly useful in a comparative perspective. Data about trust have been collected from reports published by international organisations. Key findings prove that there is no sharp decline of trust in government in all countries considered in this article. They also tend to show that transparency and trust in government are not systematically positively associated. Therefore, this article challenges the common assumption, mostly found in the normative literature, about a positive interrelation between the two, where trust in government is conceived as a beneficial effect of administrative transparency. Finally, it suggests that mis(trust) may be considered a key driver of transparency and would as such call for more transparency from public bodies.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Political Science, Local Government and Administration