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By T. Erkkilä

Transparency has develop into a world inspiration of liable govt. This ebook argues that the transnational discourse of transparency promotes very likely contradictory coverage rules that could result in unintentional results. It significantly examines even if elevated transparency relatively results in elevated democratic responsibility.

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Additional info for Government Transparency: Impacts and Unintended Consequences

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In other words, in order to assess analytically the ideas of contemporary governance, they need to be identified and contextualized, and located within a belief system (see Skinner 2002a). The central ideas in the policy discourses on transparency are drawn from debates on public-sector performance and democratization. These ideas are not static, but constantly in flux. In order to uncover the ideational shifts in a policy discourse, its conceptual changes should be examined (cf. Skinner 1999; Skinner 2002a; compare Schmidt 2002, 223): Are there changes in the concepts that are used in the discourse and, if so, what added value or contradictory terms do the new concepts introduce?

These tensions pose a problem for democratic control. Though for any individual actor this might seem like a slight shift, its aggregate effect on democratic accountability may be more extensive. Furthermore, the social contradictions and unintended consequences of the reforms have created situations in which the responsibilities of an agency are contradictory and plagued by trade-offs (Hood et al. 1996). Even the discourse of transparency in transnational policy has various modalities. On the one hand, it emphasizes freedom of information as a civil right – the ‘right to know’ – but on the other, there are calls for new forms of collaborative governance in which transparency is seen to enhance public trust, thereby also rendering governance more effective.

As I will show, the ideational shift from publicity to transparency is also ongoing in these countries, though it may take more subtle forms than in developing countries. History thus becomes an important reference point, making the changes appear part of an administrative tradition that is nevertheless undergoing change as a result of such reflexivity. As the democratic institution of accessing government information is now held in high regard for its positive effects on economic efficiency and competitiveness, these new ideas have been added to the historical narrative on the openness of governance without general notice.

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