The Uncertain Relationship between Transparency and Accountability

Development in Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4-5, August 2007

2 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011

See all articles by Jonathan Fox

Jonathan Fox

School of International Service, American University

Date Written: August 3, 2007

Abstract

The concepts of transparency and accountability are closely linked: transparency is supposed to generate accountability. This article questions this widely held assumption. Transparency mobilizes the power of shame, yet the shameless may not be vulnerable to public exposure. Truth often fails to lead to justice. After exploring different definitions and dimensions of the two ideas, the more relevant question turns out to be: what kinds of transparency lead to what kinds of accountability, and under what conditions? The article concludes by proposing that the concept can be unpacked in terms of two distinct variants. Transparency can be either 'clear' or 'opaque, while accountability can be either 'soft' or 'hard'.

Keywords: Transparency, accountability, civil society

JEL Classification: H, H4, H83

Suggested Citation

Fox, Jonathan, The Uncertain Relationship between Transparency and Accountability (August 3, 2007). Development in Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4-5, August 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830293

Jonathan Fox (Contact Author)

School of International Service, American University ( email )

4400 Mass Ave NW
Washington, DC DC 20016
United States
8315358965 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jonathan-fox.org

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