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Cucciniello, M., Porumbescu, G. A., & Grimmelikhuijsen, S. (2017) 25 years of transparency research: evidence and future directions Public Administration Review,. 77(1), 32-44


This article synthesizes the cross-disciplinary literature on government transparency. It systematically reviews research addressing the topic of government transparency published between 1990 and 2015. The review used 187 studies to assess three questions: (1) what forms of transparency has the literature identified?; (2) what outcomes does the literature attribute to transparency?; and (3) how successful is transparency in achieving those goals? In addressing these questions, we reviewed six interrelated types of transparency and nine governance and citizen related outcomes of transparency. Based upon the findings of the analysis, we outline an agenda for future research on government transparency and its effects, which calls for: more systematically investigating the ways in which contextual conditions shapes transparency outcomes, replicating studies with varying methodologies, investigating transparency in neglected countries, and paying greater attention to understudied claims of transparency such as decision-making and management. Practitioner Points Government transparency is no cure-all and does not always have positive outcomes. Instead, transparency is effective in achieving certain outcomes, such as improving participation, financial management and reducing corruption. Transparency is less effective at engendering trust and legitimacy of government. Our analysis suggests government transparency ‘works’ under some conditions but not under others. What these conditions are needs further investigation.

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