Transparency and Participation/Accountability?

Apr 09, 2009

I was wondering if there is any research out there on the correlation or not between transparency & participation/accountability? Any data/case studies that show that:

1. Improvements in transparency lead to more participation
2. Improvements in participation lead to more transparency
3. These two are not related, so you need to work on both if you want greater accountability.

Data supporting such arguments could help a lot of national and international actors think better about the programs that they design. And by implication make life easier for Civil Society Actors running national campaigns and coalitions?

Any thoughts? Is this a research area that we need to develop further?

Mail me, add to the Facebook discussion board or comment on the Blog.




  1. Albert,

    When it comes to well implemented Participatory Budgeting practices you will generally find transparency as a byproduct of the participative process.

    Look at this text and check out the section B, “Indirect Effects on Participatory Budgeting”

    Here’s another extract from a text by Daniel Kaufmann

    “A logical extension of furthering local community participation is to devolve entirely some functions of government service provision – e.g. decentralization. By making officials accountable to local citizens who are in a better position to evaluate the level and quality of services delivered, a decentralized system allows reliable information concerning performance to be generated and utilized for enforcement. Reciprocally, local citizens are better informed about supply conditions, budgets and expenditures for local services, thus reducing the information asymmetry between clients and officials that is largely responsible for corruption.”

    In other words there seems to be evidence that, at least, point 2 “improvements in participation lead to more transparency” may be true.

    You can find more texts that address the subject on the Participatory Budgeting Facebook group

    I hope this might be helpful,



  2. Albert, I have been working with forum for popular paricipation (FPPM) in developing body knowledge of CSO engagement in fiscal decentralization and local budgeting process. We have done research on the same issues that you raised. Interestingly, there is no empirical facts that participation lead to more tranparency in the local budget processes and allocation. Three factors are responsible for this: 1) “participation” failed to create strong public demand for transparency and 2) the way CSO works to advocate participation is too technocratic rather than political in nature, 3) participation failed to overcome persistent information assymetric in the budget process.
    Recently FPPM published those research findings and have been release a new book titling: Participation, Institutional Reform and Budget Allocation: Lessons Learned from Five Regions (Kupang, East Nusa Tengara; Solo and Jepara in Central Java, Sumedang and Depok in West Java). The implication for further discussion, at least in Indonesian context, is quite clear: 1)CSO should be more political in their budget works. We have to equip CSO with political skill that enable them to work in political arena and with political party 2) CSO should take part in adressing persistent information assymetric problem in the local budgeting processes.

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