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Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?$
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Christopher Hood and David Heald

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263839

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263839.001.0001

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Beyond Exchanging First Principles? Some Closing Comments

Beyond Exchanging First Principles? Some Closing Comments

(p.210) (p.211) 13 Beyond Exchanging First Principles? Some Closing Comments
Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?

Christopher Hood

British Academy

This concluding chapter explores four issues. First, what have we learned about transparency and how has it changed? Second, what seems to affect transparency – what accounts for growth or decline in the phenomenon? Third, what does transparency itself affect – what does it do to organizations or to society more generally? Last, what normative view should we take of transparency? Transparency differs from other closely related concepts, particularly openness and freedom of information. What might have been discussed or labelled as accountability, openness, or due process a generation ago may now be talked of as ‘transparency’, but that relabelling might have no deeper significance except to students of the rise and fall of fashionable words and phrases. If the optimistic view of the effects of transparency provisions is that government ministers and bureaucracies adopt a culture of openness, citizens end up knowing more, and trust in democratic government goes up, the data available for assessing such a view are patchy and hard to interpret.

Keywords:   transparency, openness, freedom of information, accountability, trust, democratic government

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