1 Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School2 Kent State University
Ideals, Proxies and Organizational Practices
The current emphasis on organizational and institutional transparency – driven by NGOs, inquisitive media, critical investors and other engaged stakeholders – signifies a growing demand for insight, clarity, participation and democracy. Holding the promise of improved access to valid and trustworthy knowledge about contemporary organizations, the transparency discourse has significant democratic potential. Yet, its most common operationalization – as information availability – reinstalls a “purified” notion of communication devoid of mystery, inaccuracy and misrepresentation. In this paper, we apply transparency to itself by unpacking its implicit model of communication and critiquing its ignorance towards the representative nature of current transparency practices. The critique unfolds the ambiguous nature of the transparency pursuit and demonstrates how its desire for insight, clarity, participation and democracy are counteracted by new types of opacity.