Can NRM agencies rely on capable and effective staff to build trust in the agency?

E. Sharp, A. Curtis
2014 Australasian Journal of Environmental Management  
Trust is recognised as an important component of agency-community relations, influencing the social acceptability of resource access and natural resource management (NRM). It is not clear if perceptions of the trustworthiness of agency staff members can lead to trust in an agency. This is an important question for agencies working in contentious policy arenas such as water reform in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. This research addressed that gap and developed a set of survey items that can
more » ... employed to benchmark trust and trustworthiness by exploring groundwater irrigator's trust in the New South Wales Office of Water (NoW). A survey was mailed to all farming properties with a groundwater licence in the Namoi catchment. As might be expected, licence holders were more likely to trust agency staff than NoW itself. Perceptions of agency and staff trustworthiness influenced landholder trust in NoW. Agency trustworthiness partially mediated the relationship between staff trustworthiness and agency trust. These findings suggest that trust should be viewed as a multilevel phenomenon. To the extent that these findings are replicated, a key implication is that community engagement strategies attempting to build trust in an agency should set out to influence how the agency itself is perceived as an organisation.
doi:10.1080/14486563.2014.881306 fatcat:q3qczvdzlvhydjp5teh6p2xbjm