Analysis of the impact and effectiveness of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation has been hampered by lack of systematic evidence and conceptual confusion about what kind of right it represents. This article discusses some of the main conceptual parameters of FOI theory, before reviewing the available evidence from a range of studies. It presents case studies of civil society activism on FOI in India and South Africa to illustrate the extent to which access to information is having an impact, in particular on socio-economic conditions. After reviewing the range of approaches used to research impact, it concludes that the academic community and the FOI community of practice need to come together to devise robust and rigorous methodologies for impact assessment.
Calland, R.; Bentley, K. The Impact and Effectiveness of Accountability and Transparency Initiatives: Freedom of Information. Development Policy Review (2012) : 23 pp. [Paper Submitted]