Ethics and Integrity of Governance
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Ethics and Integrity of Governance

Perspectives Across Frontiers

Edited by Leo W.J.C. Huberts, Jeroen Maesschalk and Carole L. Jurkiewicz

This book provides critical, up-to-date reviews on the field of ethics and integrity of governance, along with fresh future perspectives. Focusing on Europe and the US, it addresses the key dimensions of public service values, the integrity and rationality of governance, ethics management, and the ethics of governance politics. In each of these four areas, leading international scholars tackle the main issues and controversies facing the world today. The final chapter synthesizes these views and provides an ambitious and critical outline for future work in the field of ethics and integrity of governance. Emanating from the much heralded ‘transatlantic dialogue’, this study integrates both the European and American perspectives into a common voice for action.
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Chapter 13: Perceptions of Corruption as Distrust? Cause and Effect in Attitudes Towards Government

Steven Van de Walle


13. Perceptions of corruption as distrust? Cause and effect in attitudes toward government Steven Van de Walle INTRODUCTION A foreigner moves to Belgium, and needs a telephone line in his new apartment. His Belgian friends wish him good luck, telling him it will take months, unless he has some connections in the public telephone company, or knows a politician who could intervene for him. The foreigner, not being well-connected, reluctantly decides to follow the standard procedure, and visits the telephone company’s office the next day. To his surprise, he is the only customer there and is able to file his application within 20 minutes, helped by a very friendly employee. One day later, his telephone is connected. His friends are amazed. Pleasantly surprised about this fast service, he goes back to the telephone company’s office, taking a bottle of his native country’s wine for the friendly and helpful employee, and asked the employee how comes his telephone was connected that fast, while everyone told him it would take months. The employee smiles and tells him, ‘well, you know, you were the first customer in weeks following the normal procedure, and not having some local politician call us. We really appreciated that, and decided to connect your telephone right away.’ This joke, emergent from the 1980s, illustrates how political and other ‘connections’ have been a central element in the functioning of public services in Belgium. Belgium has had an image of being a corrupt country for a long...

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