Scaling accountability through vertically integrated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy

Scaling accountability through vertically integrated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy

Civil society initiatives in the new field of transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) are flourishing in the global South, yet governmental responsiveness often falls short of expectations.
 
This working paper argues that the growing field of transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) needs a conceptual reboot, to address the limited traction gained so far on the path to accountability. To inform more strategic approaches and to identify the drivers of more sustainable institutional change, fresh analytical work is needed. The paper makes the case for one among several possible strategic approaches by distinguishing between “scaling up” and “taking scale into account”. This proposition grounds an explanation of the vertical integration strategy, which involves multi-level coordination by civil society organisations of policy monitoring and advocacy, grounded in broad pro-accountability constituencies.

To spell out how this strategy can empower pro-accountability actors, the paper contrasts varied terms of engagement between state and society, proposing a focus on collaborative coalitions as an alternative to the conventional dichotomy between confrontation and constructive engagement. The paper grounds this discussion by reviewing the rich empirical terrain of existing multi-level approaches, summarising nine cases – three each in three countries – to demonstrate what can be revealed when TPA initiatives are seen through the lens of scale. It concludes with a set of broad analytical questions for discussion, followed by testable hypotheses proposed to inform future research agendas.
 
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