Empirical evidence of tangible impacts of social accountability is mixed. This meta-analysis reinterprets evaluations through a new lens: the distinction between tactical and strategic approaches to the promotion of citizen voice to contribute to improved public sector performance. Field experiments study bounded, tactical interventions based on optimistic assumptions about the power of information alone, both to motivate collective action and to influence the state. Enabling environments for collective action combined with bolstered state capacity to respond to citizen voice are more promising. Sandwhich strategies can help ‘voice’ and ‘teeth’ to become mutually empowering, through state-society synergy.
“Voice needs teeth to have bite – but teeth may not bite without voice.”