Surfacing the Submerged State: Operational Transparency Increases Trust in and Engagement with Government
35 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013 Last revised: 13 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 11, 2017
Three studies, using original experimental as well as field data from the city of Boston, Massachusetts, show that revealing the “submerged state” - ensuring that citizens can see the often-hidden work that government performs - enhances both perceptions of and engagement with government. In Study 1, viewing a video highlighting the work performed by the government of an archetypal American town increased trust in government and support for government services. In Study 2, Boston residents who interacted with a website that visualized both service requests (e.g., potholes) and efforts by the city government to address them became more supportive of government. Study 3 leverages proprietary data from a mobile phone application through which residents can submit service requests to Boston government. Users who received photographic evidence that their service requests had been addressed were more likely to continue to engage with government than users who did not receive such evidence.
Keywords: operational transparency, trust, engagement, government services
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