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Can Auditing Generate Trust? The Organisation of Auditing and the Quality of Government

Chapter in book
Authors Maria Gustavson
Bo Rothstein
Published in Trust and Organizations. Confidence Across Borders
Pages 41-63
ISBN 978-1-137-37074-7
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2013
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 41-63
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137368812_3
Subject categories Business Administration, Political Science, Public Administration Studies

Abstract

The democratic model of society may be said to be based on a contract between the people and the authorities. The people grant to the authorities—for simplicity’s sake, we will use the term “the state” here, but it could just as well be regional or local authorities—the administration of a number of public goods. In modern societies, this not only applies to defense and the legal system, but also to other duties, such as health care, social insurance, education, and infrastructure. In order for this to be achieved, significant financial resources (taxes) are also transferred from the people to the state. Even if there is a continual political and ideological discussion in terms of the exact proportion of these tasks to be managed within the public sphere, and as regards how much the citizens should be expected to pay for this, in the majority of societies there exists a relative consensus that such tasks are of major importance to the citizens and that the resources to be reserved must be significant. Consequently, the social contract needs to be based on a huge dose of trust. Citizens must be able to be confident that the public goods the state is committed to provide will be executed, and executed in a legitimate manner. On the day when a citizen needs, for example, health care, pension, or elderly care, then these services are to be available and are to be delivered in an acceptable and effective manner. Representative democracy implies that citizens are able to exercise control to ensure that this is the case by voting in general elections. Politicians wishing to be reelected then, according to this model, have a strong interest in appearing to be reliable in terms of having fulfilled the terms of the social contract.

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