Research Handbook on Transparency
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Research Handbook on Transparency

Edited by Padideh Ala’i and Robert G. Vaughn

In the last two decades transparency has become a ubiquitous and stubbornly ambiguous term. Typically understood to promote rule of law, democratic participation, anti-corruption initiatives, human rights, and economic efficiency, transparency can also legitimate bureaucratic power, advance undemocratic forms of governance, and aid in global centralization of power. This path-breaking volume, comprising original contributions on a range of countries and environments, exposes the many faces of transparency by allowing readers to see the uncertainties, inconsistencies and surprises contained within the current conceptions and applications of the term.
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Chapter 2: The relationship between transparency, whistleblowing, and public trust

A. J. Brown, Wim Vandekerckhove and Suelette Dreyfus


If our objective is transparent, accountable and honest governance – government we can trust and a private sector that is trustworthy – then clearly the less information that is kept from us, and the greater the confidence we have in its accuracy, the more likely we are to achieve our aim. Transparency has become a substitute for trust. As stated by the late Jeremy Pope, founding managing director of Transparency International, concepts of transparency have become central to the policy debate over how to build and sustain public trust in modern institutions. With public trust under increasing pressure in most, if not all democratic systems, questions abound about how to maintain the popular faith and confidence upon which stable and effective governance depends. But has transparency really become a substitute for trust? Could it ever perform this function – or is it simply one of the necessary elements in the relationship between citizens and institutions, which influence trust? Is it true that maximum transparency is conducive to maximum trust, or does it have a more nuanced role? In either case, what is the nature of the relationship between transparency and trust? These questions are important due to conflicting interpretations of the nature of the public’s interest in transparency reforms.

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