Edited by Frédérique Six and Koen Verhoest
Chapter 8: Deliberate trust-building by autonomous government agencies: evidence from responses to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic
Do formally autonomous agencies tasked with expert regulatory roles act deliberately to gain and maintain trust among policy stakeholders? This chapter explores the question through a study of influenza pandemic response processes in an anonymized European public health agency (EPHA). In particular, it tests whether seeking a reputation for trustworthiness could shape the agency’s 2009 H1N1 “swine” flu pandemic responses. In doing so, the analysis breaks new methodological ground: where most previous analyses have relied on retrospective studies, this analysis uses a unique, first-hand participant-observer record and interviews collected within EPHA. It shows that demonstrating trustworthiness to various audiences could control some of EPHA’s pandemic response actions and overrule rival concerns. Hence, deliberate trust-building can demonstrably be a powerful driver of autonomous agency behaviour.
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