Think Piece

From openness to real accountability: the role of MSIs
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Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) are a rapidly-expanding response to complex public governance challenges across the world. From the extractive sector to the construction industry, MSIs are promoting more open and transparent governance. But are these initiatives making a real difference in contributing to government accountability? Or are they allowing government to better ‘manage’ civil society demands and channel them in more technocratic and apolitical directions?

Over the past year, T/AI has been supporting a series of dialogues and workshops exploring MSIs to understand the existing evidence while probing key challenges and opportunities. Although there is significant enthusiasm for the possibilities of MSIs to address complex governance challenges that have resisted significant progress over the past decades, stakeholders have also raised a core set of questions and challenges that MSIs must address if they are to meaningfully contribute to more accountable governance.

Brendan Halloran outlines these challenges and the questions they pose to MSIs.


Report insights + takeaways

Isomorphic mimicry
Narrowly technical approaches to governance challenges could lead to isomorphic mimicry, where public institutions, laws and processes look right, but fail to ensure responsive and accountable governance.
Accountability ecosystem
For MSIs to be meaningful contributors to change, pro-reform actors need to analyze how approaches fit within a broader accountability ecosystem of institutions, actors and processes.