Handbook on Theories of Governance
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Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.
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Chapter 18: Transparency

Jenny de Fine Licht and Daniel Naurin


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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