Is trust an undervalued ingredient of a thriving economy?

Think tank: The David Hume Institute

Author(s): Charlie Woods

May 1, 2023

This report from UK think tank the David Hume Institute looks at the role that trust can play in strengthening the economy.

Labour market disputes, concerns about public contracts and declining trust in government and institutions have risen up the news agenda in recent times.  All of these things impact on our economy but the importance of trust in building thriving economies, as an issue in its own right, feels under-explored. 

When governments talk of increasing productivity and economic growth, are they focusing sufficiently on the challenges posed by an unhappy workforce or the hours lost in contract disputes?  This paper argues that, although improving levels of  trust can take time, it is time well spent as it saves resources in the long term.

This paper aims to stimulate discussion about the role that trust and more collaborative relationships can play in strengthening the economy. It is written from the perspective of experience in working to stimulate economic development, help resolve commercial conflicts, facilitate dialogue and develop more effective relationships. 

This paper builds on previous David Hume Institute work on the labour market including the 2020 briefing paper on the Danish model of Flexicurity.