I've written much on the work of Barry Weingast and Douglass North. Last week's podcast features Russ Roberts interviewing Weingast. You get a good introduction to the North-Weingast view.
On a related note, last week I read The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. Collier and Weingast would agree that checks and balances are characteristic of a more open society. They would agree that mere formal democracy does not necessarily produce openness. However, I think that Weingast might be skeptical that we could successfully graft open accountability onto underdeveloped countries. To understand why, listen to the podcast.