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When does transparency improve institutional performance? Evidence from 20,000 projects in 183 countries

Honig, Dan, Lall, Ranjit ORCID: 0000-0003-1455-3506 and Parks, Bradley C. (2022) When does transparency improve institutional performance? Evidence from 20,000 projects in 183 countries. American Journal of Political Science. ISSN 0092-5853

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ajps.12698


Access to information (ATI) policies are often praised for strengthening transparency, accountability, and trust in public institutions, yet evidence that they improve institutional performance is mixed. We argue that an important impediment to the effective operation of such policies is the failure of bureaucrats to comply with information requests that could expose poor performance. Analyzing a new data set on the performance of approximately 20,000 aid projects financed by 12 donor agencies in 183 countries, we find that enforcement matters: the adoption of ATI policies by agencies is associated with better project outcomes when these policies include independent appeals processes for denied information requests but with no improvement when they do not. We also recover evidence that project staff adjust their behavior in anticipation of ATI appeals, and that the performance dividends of appeals processes increase when bottom-up collective action is easier and mechanisms of project oversight are weak.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Midwest Political Science Association
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2022 10:12
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 19:45

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