Transparency in a New Global Order
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Transparency in a New Global Order

Unveiling Organizational Visions

Edited by Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya

This book argues that transparency is a concept that has gained increasing currency and favour as an organizing principle and administrative goal in recent years. Calls for transparency have been directed towards states, markets, corporations and national political processes as well as towards large institutions such as the European Union.
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In Retrospect: The Play of Shadows

Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya


Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya ‘Visibility is a trap’. (Foucault, 1977, p. 200) TRANSPARENCY AS NARRATIVE We live in a world which aspires to be one of visibility, openness and clarity – indeed one of transparency. The capacity to ‘see through’ has been evoked as significant in relation to organizational life, social life and to culture. In its crudest understanding, we are left with the idea that visibility, legibility and measurability signify that which is righteous, legitimate, successful or democratic. But as the contributions to this volume have shown, there is more to transparency than meets the eye. We set out to explore the ideas and practices of transparency in different social and organizational contexts, to initiate a discussion of the complexity of the term. The wide scope of our analysis aimed to show the importance of understanding the wider organizational, cultural and ideational context in which transparency is invoked. In its capacity as a ‘travelling keyword’, transparency easily tangles with, liaises with and colours other equally compelling terms, practices and organizational structures. And it does this in a not so innocent manner. We argue that notions of transparency are involved in efforts to fashion, govern and control human activity in a normative way and are intrinsic to a cluster of concepts and practices that constitute the globalized market rationality. The concept is thereby linked to a neo-liberal ethos of governance that fosters individualism, entrepreneurship, voluntary forms of regulation and formalized types of accountability. And since...

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