25 Years of Transparency Research: Evidence and Future Directions

Maria Cucciniello, Gregory A. Porumbescu, Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Citations (Scopus)


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 uses 187 studies to address 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, the authors review six interrelated types of transparency and nine governance- and citizen-related outcomes of transparency. Based on the findings of the analysis, the authors outline an agenda for future research on government transparency and its effects that calls for more systematically investigating the ways in which contextual conditions shape transparency outcomes, replicating studies with varying methodologies, investigating transparency in neglected countries, and paying greater attention to understudied claims of transparency such as improved decision making and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Gregory A. Porumbescu's work was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2014S1A3A2044898). Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen acknowledges funding of an NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) grant (no. VENI-451-15-024) that investigates various effects of transparency. The authors consulted a number of experts on the topic of transparency in order to ensure that all relevant journals in the field of public administration, public management and e-government were included. They would like to thank these experts specifically: David Heald, Frank Bannister, Alasdair Roberts, Albert Meijer, Suzanne Piotrowski, Jenny De Fine Licht, Jean Patrick Villeneuve and Greta Nasi for their suggestions. Furthermore, they would would like to thank Albert Meijer and Lars Tummers for their feedback on an earlier version of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by The American Society for Public Administration

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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