This report is cross-posted from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI) website.


We conducted a systematic literature review of the research assessing the impact of international norms for transparency and accountability on actions taken by citizens and “accountability actors” to hold government accountable. For the purpose of this review, “accountability actors” are individuals or groups within government or in society, such as media or civil society organizations (CSOs), who take action to hold government accountable by establishing shared expectations for accountable performance, monitoring, and sanctioning government behavior.

We focused on the norm-setting efforts of seven public sector multi-stakeholder initiatives: the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Open Budget Survey (OBS), the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT), the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST), the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MTA) and the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP). Efforts to promote international norms and standards by nature often start at the national level with the aim of integrating standards into national laws and policies; however, many initiatives also aim to reach civil society and media, and enable or support these accountability actors to use the information and data related to norms and standards to hold their governments accountable.

The focus of this review is on evidence that these initiatives had an impact on the behaviors of these accountability actors, and we limit our review to published academic papers or academic working papers. Our review thus complements the 2015 report previously commissioned by TAI on the effectiveness of governance-oriented multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), which focused primarily on “grey literature” and highlighted the gap in this literature on the impact of MSIs on the actions of accountability actors.

This evidence brief is part of the Learning from Evidence series, a learning process undertaken by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative to engage with and utilize the evolving evidence base in support of our members’ transparency and accountable governance goals. We are pleased to have partnered with MIT’s Governance Lab and Twaweza on this initiative. This series comprises a variety of practice- and policy-relevant learning products for funders and practitioners alike, from evidence briefs, to more detailed evidence syntheses, to tools to support the navigation of evidence in context.