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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1642659
 
 

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The Adverse Effects of Sunshine: A Field Experiment on Legislative Transparency in an Authoritarian Assembly


Edmund J. Malesky


Duke University, Political Science

Paul J. Schuler


University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Anh Tran


Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

December 1, 2012

American Political Science Review 106.4 (2012): 762-786.

Abstract:     
An influential literature has demonstrated that legislative transparency can improve the performance of parliamentarians in democracies. In a democracy, the incentive for improved performance is created by voters’ responses to newly available information. Building on this work, donor projects have begun to export transparency interventions to authoritarian regimes under the assumption that nongovernmental organizations and the media can substitute for the incentives created by voters. Such interventions, however, are at odds with an emerging literature that argues that authoritarian parliaments primarily serve the role of co-optation and limited power sharing, where complaints can be raised in a manner that does not threaten regime stability. We argue that under these conditions, transparency may have perverse effects, and we test this theory with a randomized experiment on delegate behavior in query sessions in Vietnam, a single-party authoritarian regime. We find no evidence of a direct effect of the transparency treatment on delegate performance; however, further analysis reveals that delegates subjected to high treatment intensity demonstrate robust evidence of curtailed participation and damaged reelection prospects. These results make us cautious about the export of transparency without electoral sanctioning.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: Transparency, Authoritarian Institutions, Parliament, Legislature, Experiment, Randomized, Field Trial

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Date posted: July 19, 2010 ; Last revised: September 30, 2013

Suggested Citation

Malesky, Edmund J. and Schuler, Paul J. and Tran, Anh, The Adverse Effects of Sunshine: A Field Experiment on Legislative Transparency in an Authoritarian Assembly (December 1, 2012). American Political Science Review 106.4 (2012): 762-786.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1642659 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1642659

Contact Information

Edmund J. Malesky (Contact Author)
Duke University, Political Science ( email )
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
Paul J. Schuler
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States
Anh Tran
Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )
1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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