Perceptions of transparency of government policymaking: A cross-national study

Jeannine E. Relly, Meghna Sabharwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


In the past two decades, governments from around the world have adopted access-to-information laws at a rate unlike any other time in history. This reform in government information policy parallels a global movement of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, which have pressed countries to advance the norm of transparency. Competition in the global economy has also provided a strong incentive for governments to show openness, as business leaders and donor nations contend that access-to-information is critical for efficient markets. Given the growing interaction between governments and transnational firms, and the global emphasis on access-to-information, this cross-national study examines the relationship between business executives' perceptions of transparency in government policymaking, and several indicators suggested in the literature as means to advance the flow of information about government. The study found countries that respondents ranked as 'most transparent' had significantly higher levels of access-to-information laws, telecommunication infrastructure, E-Government, free press, and higher income levels, than countries with low transparency levels. Our regression findings indicate that telecommunications infrastructure and free press influenced the perceptions of government transparency in a positive and significant way. The evidence indicates that democracy did not contribute toward the perceptions of transparency. The findings also suggest that nations aiming for openness by adopting access-to-information laws and engaging in E-Government may signal to businesses that their governments are aware of the international norm of transparency-though these conditions are not necessarily sufficient to advance the perceptions of government transparency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Access to information laws
  • Government information policy
  • Governmental accountability
  • Governmental transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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