What helps "open government" projects thrive?

In a new paper in Government Information Quarterly, Luciana Cingolani finds that governments’ involvement in transparency and accountability initiatives is critical to their endurance.

For over a decade, "open government" projects have been on the march across the developed and developing worlds. Public management scholars have enthusiastically greeted these initiatives, which use digital platforms to enable transparency or facilitate civic participation in policymaking, as a new form of "wiki-government."

However, a rigorous understanding of why some projects endure and why many fail is still lacking, argues Luciana Cingolani, Assistant Professor for Public Administration at the Hertie School in research published online in October 2020 by Government Information Quarterly. Her paper, “The survival of open government platforms: Empirical insights from a global sample”, tries to answer this question.

"While the field of open government...has advanced rapidly on the conceptual front, the advancement of empirical evidence connecting open government's diversity and its success has lagged behind," Cingolani writes.

Through an analysis of 485 open government platforms from 87 countries, Cingolani concludes that government-initiated programmes are much less likely to be terminated than citizen-initiated projects, even controlling for multiple financial and environmental aspects.
This finding "speaks in favor of the popular notion of government-as-a-platform, where governments take the initial steps in framing, designing, coordinating and sustaining civic data," Cingolani writes.

The article also finds that while the support for these platforms from international partnerships does not affect their endurance, it does seem to encourage their genesis, and that a thematically broader platform does not necessarily fare better than a more focused one. 

The paper is available to read here.

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