Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?

Front Cover
Christopher Hood, David Heald
OUP/British Academy, Sep 7, 2006 - Political Science - 246 pages
'Transparency' is widely canvassed as a key to better governance, increasing trust in public-office holders. But transparency is more often preached than practised, more often referred to than defined, and more often advocated than critically analysed. This volume exposes this fashionable doctrine to critical scrutiny from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, philosophy and economics. The volume traces the history of transparency as a doctrine of good governance and social organization, and identifies its different forms; it assesses the benefits and drawbacks of measures to enhance various forms of transparency; and examines how institutions respond to measures intended to increase transparency, and with what consequences. Transparency is shown not to be a new doctrine. It can come into conflict with other doctrines of good governance, and there are some important exceptions to Jeremy Bentham's famous dictum that 'the more closely we are watched, the better we behave'. And instead of heralding a new culture of openness in government, measures to improve transparency tend to lead to tighter and more centralised management of information.

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