Unveiling Organizational Visions
Edited by Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya
Chapter 2: Practices of Transparency: Exporting Swedish Business Culture to the Baltic States
Anja Timm INTRODUCING THE ORGANIZATIONAL SETTING This chapter probes the overt and symbolic claims to organizational transparency – and moral superiority – staked by a Swedish business school in the Baltic states and their (partial) translation into everyday practices among staﬀ and students. My understanding of organizational practices of transparency is informed by the work of Shore and Wright (1997; 1999; 2000) and Strathern (2000a), who draw on Foucault’s notion of governmentality and the spread of panopticism. These writers seek to challenge anthropologists and others to engage with the comparative study of policy and the ways in which neo-liberalism is becoming taken for granted in a variety of contexts. Following Power (1994), they examine the history and meaning of ‘audit culture’ by analytically tracing its migration from the sphere of ﬁnance and management into other realms such as higher education. Strathern explains that, ‘commitment to transparency is overtly commitment to putting an organisation to the test. But it is widely agreed that the technology of transparency embedded in audit is not a good procedure for understanding how organisations really work’ (2000b, p. 315). In this chapter I use the notion of transparency to explore both of these aspects, that is, the way in which one particular organization purposefully displays and presents itself as a model of transparency and how the transparency imperative is received and transformed within the realm of social practice. The context in which I write is part of the wider international knowledge economy that Shore and Wright and Strathern...
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