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    Transparency at the parish pump: a field experiment to measure the effectiveness of freedom of information requests in England

    Worthy, Benjamin and John, P. and Vannoni, M. (2016) Transparency at the parish pump: a field experiment to measure the effectiveness of freedom of information requests in England. Journal of Public Administration Research And Theory 27 (3), pp. 485-500. ISSN 1477-9803.

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    Abstract

    How effective are systems of transparency, such as Freedom of Information (FOI) requests? The ambitious aims of FOI laws hinge on whether requests produce the desired information for the citizens or groups that use them. The question is whether such legally mandated requests work better than more informal mechanisms. Despite the high hopes of advocates, organizational routines, lack of awareness or resistance may limit legal access and public bodies may seek to comply minimally rather than behave in concordance with the spirit of the law. This article reports a field experiment that compared FOI requests and informal nonlegal asks to assess which is more effective in accessing information from English parish councils. The basic premise of statutory access is borne out. FOI requests are more effective than simple asks and the size or preexisting level of openness of a body appears to make little difference to their responsiveness. FOI requests are more effective in encouraging bodies to do more than the law asks (concordance) than encouraging more minimal levels of legal cooperation, when a body simply fulfills its obligations to varying degrees (compliance).This finding indicates high levels of support for FOI once it is within the system.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
    Research Centre: British Politics and Public Life, Centre for the Study of
    Depositing User: Benjamin Worthy
    Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 15:43
    Last Modified: 18 Nov 2018 01:10
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/16738

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