Defining subnational open government: does local context influence policy and practice?

  • M. ChatwinEmail author
  • G. Arku
  • E. Cleave
Research Article


What is open government? The contemporary conceptualization of open government remains rooted in transparency and accountability, but it is embedded within the political economy of policy, where forces of globalization through supranational organizations strongly influence the creation and dispersion of policy across the globe. Recognizing the direct impact of subnational governments on residents, in 2016 the Open Government Partnership (OGP) launched the Subnational Pioneer’s Pilot Project with 15 participating government authorities globally. Each subnational participant submitted an action plan for opening their government information and processes in 2017. The uniformity of the OGP action plan provides a unique opportunity to assess the conception of open government at the subnational level globally. This paper uses a document analysis to examine how open government is conceptualized at the subnational level, including the salience of various components, and how local context can influence the development of action plans that are responsive to the realities of each participating jurisdiction. This paper assesses whether being a part of the political economy of policy homogenizes the action plans of 15 subnational governments or allows for local context to influence the design of commitments still aligned within a general theme.


Open Government Partnership Policy Subnational government Globalization International development Geographic context 



The first author wishes to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for funding provided through the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Award. Special thanks to Brittany Lane from the Open Government Partnership for assisting with access to the subnational action plans and to all reviewers who generously donated their time to assist with this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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