Sharing data – not with us! Distrust as decisive obstacle for public authorities to benefit from big data

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Future mobility planning to cope with the ongoing environmental challenges such as air pollution have to be anchored in the work of every public authority worldwide. One recent trend that ought to support public authorities to meet the requirements set by the European Union is the creation of data collection for ‘big data’ by sharing transport and mobility data between public authorities. While the benefits of big data to increase public authorities’ efficiency and effectivity and their citizen’s life is well understood, examples from the public sector that highlight public authorities’ engagement in such sharing activities is still missing. While the literature so far highlights issues around capacity of public authorities that hinder shared activities, we want to shed light on distrust as a key reason for the lack of engagement. Based on comprehensive data collected over the period of four years via several workshops and semi-structured interviews with seven public authorities in Europe, we are able to demonstrate that the “real” obstacle for not providing and sharing data lies primarily in the hands of the public authorities’ employees. Our results show firstly, that distrust may emerge towards different referents such as the community, particular individuals, or the technology itself and thus, managerial implications have to be very specific to overcome distrust. Secondly, we show how distrust may emerge and spread from one referent towards another referent through negative reciprocity and herewith may take an all-encompassing state that affects the whole sharing economy framework and inhibits all potential benefits in the end.
Original languageEnglish
Article number576070
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021

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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • Distrust
  • Sharing economy
  • Public authority
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Community distrust
  • Data Sharing
  • transport and mobility sector

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