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?

Image: Emeritus Professor Valerie Braithwaite

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...

Image: Emeritus Professor John Braithwaite

Professor John Braithwaite

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

Image: Emeritus Professor Peter Grabosky (RegNet)

Professor Peter Grabosky

Professor Peter Grabosky holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, and has written extensively on crime control and public policy. His current interests focus on excesses of...

Image: Professor Kate Henne (RegNet)

Professor Kathryn Henne

Professor Kathryn (Kate) Henne is the Director of the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). An interdisciplinarily trained scholar, she has a PhD in Criminology, Law and Society...

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...

Tusikov Natasha

Natasha Tusikov is an assistant professor in the Criminology Program in the Department of Social Science at York University in Toronto. Her research examines the intersection among law, crime,...

Law, justice and 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