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They Talk the Talk – But Do They Walk the Walk?: On the implementation of Right to Information Legislation in Sweden
Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Centre for Municipality Studies – CKS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Centre for Municipality Studies – CKS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2018 (English)In: Offentlig Förvaltning. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 2000-8058, E-ISSN 2001-3310, Vol. 22, no 4, p. 3-20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transparency is recognized as a crucial condition for accountability, good governance and democracy. As right to information (RTI) laws have spread, it has become crucial to ask whether ambitious legislative frameworks translate to de facto transparency. In this article, we test how well local governments in Sweden – a ‘most likely country’ for implementing RTI laws – comply with its comparatively ambitious Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act. As a side effect, we also gauge if New Public Management reforms, exemplified by increased public ownership of enterprises in local government, imply lessened compliance with RTI legislation. Requesting information from 462 randomly selected public administrations and municipally owned enterprises, counterintuitive findings were observed. Fewer than half of the organizations respected the RTI legislation, and no significant differences were found between the public administrations and publicly owned enterprises. The findings have methodological as well as empirical implications. They highlight the importance of not only studying legislative frameworks – as has frequently been done in previous work – but also of analyzing actual implementation of RTI frameworks in everyday situations. Additionally, the findings demonstrate that problems relating to openness can be observed in low corrupt, mature democracies with strong bureaucratic capacity. Lastly, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the findings indicate that publicly owned corporations do not necessarily imply an ‘accountability deficit’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborgs Universitet * Förvaltningshögskolan , 2018. Vol. 22, no 4, p. 3-20
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-153437OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-153437DiVA, id: diva2:1271012
Funder
Swedish Research Council, HS 2014-12-15Available from: 2018-12-14 Created: 2018-12-14 Last updated: 2019-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Erlingsson, Gissur ÓWittberg, Emanuel

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Erlingsson, Gissur ÓWittberg, Emanuel
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Centre for Municipality Studies – CKSFaculty of Arts and SciencesThe Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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