Sunlight or Window Dressing? Local Government Compliance with South Africa's Promotion of Access to Information Act

Daniel Berliner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Institutional reforms often face challenges of poor compliance and implementation at the local level. I analyze these in a context where weak state capacity and limited enforcement make widespread compliance unlikely. South Africa's 2000 Promotion of Access to Information Act tasked the South African Human Rights Commission with monitoring and promoting compliance, but with limited resources and no authority to sanction. I argue that local political competition can generate endogenous incentives for compliance, even under conditions of weak capacity and limited external enforcement. Using data on 234 South African municipalities over 10 years, I find higher levels of compliance among more politically competitive municipalities. The results are not simply a function of differences between African National Congress–governed municipalities and others, and are robust to numerous controls for different forms of local state capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-661
Number of pages21
JournalGovernance
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing

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