Mission statement

Major societal events like Brexit, the financial crisis, and concerns about privacy and data protection in digital interactions are said to be caused or enhanced by declining trust between citizens, private actors and governments. Eroding trust can lead to changing attitudes, behaviour and rules such as cynicism and alienation; support for populist politicians; non-compliance with government regulations; and an overly strong judicialization of relations. These signals are amplified by the involvement of different levels of government, manifesting themselves in decreasing citizen support for supranational institutions, increasing distrust between member states and the EU, or between federal and sub-state authorities. Governments and societal actors seek how to foster trust, but scientific knowledge about distrust in such complex governance systems is largely lacking.

By integrating high-level scientific expertise from five disciplines (political science, communication science, law, behavioural economics and public administration), GOVTRUST aims to provide a substantial contribution to our knowledge on the dynamics, causes and effects of trust and distrust in such complex governance systems.

To do so, GOVTRUST draws on researchers from research groups from of faculties of Law, Social Sciences and Economics to jointly conduct frontline interdisciplinary research on the overarching research question:

What are the dynamics, causes and effects of trust and distrust in multi-level governance, more precisely between actors involved in designing and implementing regulations?

GOVTRUST aims to maximize the scientific impact and international reputation of UAntwerp through:

  1. major contributions in terms of conceptualization, theory-building, empirical analysis and innovative combinations of methods,
  2. as well as international publications, research grants, research infrastructure, high-level interdisciplinary academic seminars, conferences and summer schools, and intensive collaboration with high-quality universities,
  3. while adhering to the highest standards of research excellence, ethics and data management.

GOVTRUST also seeks to have substantial societal impact, through extensive knowledge dissemination and valorisation via recommendations to policy-makers, dialogues with practitioner networks, involvement in the societal debate, and integration in education curricula.

GOVTRUST aims to be a central exponent of the UAntwerp Emerging Research Domain ‘Multi-level Governance, Globalisation & Federalism’, creating a thriving research community with a strong multiplier effect, even beyond the involved research groups