The Uncertain Relationship between Transparency and Accountability
Development in Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4-5, August 2007
2 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011
Date Written: August 3, 2007
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: Suggested Citation