Bad Performance-Low Trust Link and Local Government: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Trust is easier to destroy than to create. While psychology literature has empirically supported this asymmetry principle, public administrators have largely assumed that the causal mechanisms of citizen trust in government with bad performance are symmetrical to those with good performance. The asymmetry principle implies that low trust is more likely to appear as a result of bad performance. To examine this bad performance-low trust link, this study conducts a quasi-experiment that contrasts a Japanese town in fiscal crisis to a control village not in fiscal crisis. Using a difference-in-differences analysis with a retrospective pretest, it finds that satisfaction with overall service quality was unaffected by tax increases and service cuts during the fiscal crisis, while the perceived appropriateness of process significantly declined. It also finds the positive associations of trust with civic engagement. The study first sheds light on distinctive features of the bad performance-low trust link.