Transparency and governance working group


In 1998, ‘transparency’ was dubbed the ‘word of the moment’ in the New York Times Magazine. Nearly twenty years later, transparency’s popularity endures, as it has become entrenched in the governance lexicon. Calls for transparency are, if anything, more ubiquitous in policy discussions today, and even organisations with deep-rooted cultures of secrecy are not exempt from its purview. Given that transparency is understood as a corrective tool with the promise of remedying the deficits of existing political, bureaucratic and economic institutions, transparency mechanisms, this collaborative working group aims to address underlying problems that result from complex governance arrangements.

In doing so, the working group on transparency and governance seeks to provide much-needed critical engagement with transparency. Many researchers often reiterate transparency’s importance as a principle of governance, but they fail to examine its deployment in context. The bulk of scholarly work on the topic focuses primarily on quantity, that is, how do we get more transparency, rather than querying its appropriateness or the adjoining dilemmas that accompany it. Very often, work in this area consists of single case studies and recommendations, many of which are not broadly applicable to other areas or consist mainly of ‘box-ticking’ exercises. A smaller number of researchers address issues of quality, that is, how to ensure that the information made available through transparency measures is meaningful and useful in terms of, for example, increasing accountability.

While both are important issues we argue that there is an equally pressing need for scholars to step back and ask fundamental questions. We ask: For whom and to what end is transparency being promoted? How is transparency contextually contingent and situated? How do broader social conditions inform both the need for and nature of transparency as an accountability mechanism?


Professor Valerie Braithwaite

Valerie Braithwaite is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a disciplinary background in psychology. She has taught in social and clinical psychology programs at undergraduate and graduate...

John Braithwaite

Professor John Braithwaite

John Braithwaite is a Professor and Founder of RegNet (the Regulatory Institutions Network), now School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University.



Professor Peter Grabosky

Peter Grabosky holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, and has written extensively on criminal justice and public policy. His general interests are in computer crime,...

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Dr Kathryn Henne

Associate Professor Kathryn (Kate) Henne is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). She earned her...

Kyla Tienhaara

Dr Kyla Tienhaara

Dr. Kyla Tienhaara is a research fellow in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and co-director of the Climate and Environmental Governance Network (CEGN...

Dr Natasha Tusikov

Natasha completed her PhD at RegNet in 2014. Prior to undertaking her PhD, Natasha worked as an intelligence analyst and researcher with Canadian law enforcement where she studied issues including...

Law, justice & human rights

RegNet is one of world’s leading centres for socio-legal research. This cluster aims to lead the development of transformative ideas in the fields of criminology and restorative justice; human rights and international law; legal pluralism; peacebuilding; the regulatory dimensions of international and domestic law; and rule of law.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet