Trust in practitioners related to trust in how their institutions are managed


Citizens’ trust in emergency and disaster professionals was also seen to be linked to their trust in how these institutions are managed: “In the last few years there has been a scuttling of the honest and competent people who denounced the ill management of emergencies. And this, of course, has led to a lack of trust in the institutions” (G1; R5). However, if institutions are well managed and adapt to the situation, for example by using trustworthy individuals who, independent from their role in the respective authority, are acting as spokespeople, then trust is greater: “There may be someone among the workers who is recognized as a spokesperson and as someone reliable. So when one is uncertain, it is good to identify some reference people, even though the hierarchical role may not necessarily be the best” (G2; R1). The credibility, or lack thereof, of institutions working in emergency and disaster situations is further linked to citizens’ trust, according to practitioners, especially where there is not perceived conflict of interests: “where there is credibility of the institutions is when there are no conflicts of interests” (G1; R5), “in many other disaster situations, people were aware of our difficulties, and they knew we were working for helping them” (G6; R4). However, if organisations are transparent with citizens, then they are seen as being more credible and trustworthy. This transparency is related to treating citizens as partners and not hiding behind authoritative means such as laws or politics: “Based on my own experiences, it is more appreciated to say that we are not able to fulfil one’s request, rather than saying that we would do it. Using the laws as a shield may cause distrust” (G3; R8), “What we should try to do, even though it’s hard, is explaining the things how they really are, because our interventions are driven by politics” (G3; R1). “As of Amatrice, people in charge of taking care of these requests, said, that by that date, they would have given the “little houses” to the citizens, but then it didn’t happen. Probably, they were not allowed to do that, by law. To me, they betrayed their trust. They should have better said, “we could deliver the houses at another time” (G5; R6).

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