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Taking scale into account in transparency and accountability initiatives

Date added: December 14, 2016

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Scale shift describes the way that localised collective actions spread to become social forces with national scope, or to resonate in transnational arenas – often through the pathway of mass collective action. Understanding the issue of scale is one important aspect of making transparency and accountability initiatives more strategic. Scale shapes both the causes of accountability failure and the tactics and strategies needed to address it. Scale shift also needs brokers who can create multi-level links across the pre-existing social networks that are widely recognised as key for the capacity to mobilise.

This research report argues that looking at scale from different angles – drawing insights from different ways of using the term – will assist in taking scale into account when developing strategic approaches to transparency and accountability that tackle symptoms rather than causes.

Ways of looking at scale:

  • Scaling up success? ‘scaling up’ is frequently used to broadly describe a process of expanding, replicating, adapting or sustaining successful policies, programmes or projects to reach a greater number of people. There are different pathways to achieving this, but moving along them is easier said than done. As well as seeing scale as ‘managing more to get bigger’, it may also be useful to think of it as ‘strategising at multiple levels to get more leverage over powerful institutions’
  • Scaling citizen voice with ICT: ICT has enabled rapid scale-up of transparency through digital media, and in the projection of citizen voice for accountability in a wide range of settings. There is the question of how ICT can potentially play the role of enabler and accelerant – contributing, for example, to the development of socially grounded civic initiatives, the aggregation of citizen voice, or building coalitions across sectors
  • Scale shift - from local to national to transnational:  localised collective actions spread to become social forces with national scope, or to resonate in transnational arenas – often through the pathway of mass collective action.

 

 

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