Trust and institutional design: a comparative analysis from the island of Ireland

Geraint Ellis*, Linda Fox-Rogers, Maria Pafi, Francesca Sartorio, Selyf Morgan, Amanda Scarfi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


There is a broad consensus that western democracies are suffering from a long term decline in political trust. While this is due to complex social change and its interaction with many other factors (including populism, models of political engagement, technological change etc), Quilter-Pinner et al 2021 have suggested that trust can be broadly determined by two key factors; the performance of government; and the processes of government. These factors also help explain the decline of trust in planning systems, planning professionals and the elected decision-makers. While commentators have lamented this decline in trust (e.g. Swain and Tait 2007, Laurian, 2009) there has rarely been an attempt to empirically explore the extent and drivers of decline in trust within planning.
This paper attempts to do this through a comparative analysis of the findings of parallel surveys of stakeholders in the planning systems of Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI), undertaken in 2020. While sharing the island of Ireland, these two planning jurisdictions have varied institutional designs and due to an array of administrative, pollical and professional factors could be said to have different planning cultures. Our findings suggests that there is a growing crisis of trust in both planning systems, and this paper will interrogate what the surveys tells us about the issues that appear to trigger distrust in each jurisdiction and link these to issues of institutional design. The paper concludes by highlighting the priorities for reform in each system, while synthesising broader insights for how we understand trust in planning more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Jul 2023
EventAESOP (European Planning Schools) Congress 2024: Integrated Planning in a World of Turbulence - University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
Duration: 11 Jul 202315 Jul 2023


ConferenceAESOP (European Planning Schools) Congress 2024
Internet address


  • Trust
  • Planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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