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Confianza a la Chilena: a comparative study of how e-services influence public sector institutional trustworthiness and trust

Smith, Matthew (2007) Confianza a la Chilena: a comparative study of how e-services influence public sector institutional trustworthiness and trust. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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New information and communication technologies bring the enticing potential to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of government administration and services. One theorised outcome of egovernment that has received little empirical attention is its ability to build citizens’ trust in government. This thesis contributes to this knowledge through a comparative study of the impacts of two Chilean e-services on citizens’ trust in the institutions of democratic government. This research traces the causal processes from the influence of the e-services on the trustworthiness of public sector institutions to how, for whom, and in what circumstances the e-services directly affect citizens’ trust in those institutions. The research approach draws from social realist assumptions and, in particular, the ontology offered by critical realism. This approach allows for the development of a novel e-government and institutional trust framework that integrates a wide range of trust theories from political science, sociology, psychology, and information systems. Extending the framework, the thesis proposes fifteen middle-range causal hypotheses that link e-services to institutional trustworthiness and citizens’ trust in those institutions. These hypotheses are then empirically grounded in casespecific hypotheses which are subsequently tested and refined through both a within-case analysis and cross-case comparison. Within limits, this study provides insight into the potentials and limits of e-government to improve the trustworthiness of the public sector. Furthermore, by adopting a street-level epistemological perspective of citizens’ interpretations and explanations of e-service interactions, the thesis contributes to the micro-level understanding of the interactions of eservices and citizens’ trust in public sector institutions. A central finding is the importance of self-interested concerns and direct user benefits in shaping perceptions and interpretations of the citizen-e-service interaction. The findings also provide empirical insight into the theoretical and practical importance of discerning between theories of how to build trustworthy institutions and trust in those institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2007 Matthew Smith
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group

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