Transparency—the availability of information about an organization’s or actor’s internal processes and decisions—plays a major role in theoretical, normative, and policy-oriented discussions on good governance. This chapter discusses the role of transparency in analyzing governance from the perspectives of three types of actors: government, citizens, and civil society. It highlights the potential trade-off between democratic accountability and legitimacy, on the one hand, and efficiency, on the other hand, and draws two main conclusions: First, the effects of transparency for governance are highly context dependent, not least because transparency comes in so many different shapes and forms. Second, although transparency is predominantly seen as a positive value in governance discourses, increased transparency may also have less positive effects for governance, and might occasionally be dysfunctional rather than beneficial.
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