The Perils of Organizational Transparency: Consistency, Surveillance, and Authority Negotiations

Oana Brindusa Albu, Leopold Ringel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The chapter uses a comparative case study design to address the mutations and trajectories of transparency in two organizations. We chose organizations that are similar in that they favor extensive forms of self-disclosure, but also different in terms of which sector they inhabit, audiences, and organization type: the Pirate Party of Germany and the lobby organization Epsilon. The findings, in close dialog with different threads in the transparency literature, unveil three crucial dimensions in which transparency regimes are likely to trigger unintended consequences: first, organizations have to cope with the tension between the disclosure of internal information on the one hand, and the need to appear consistent in public on the other. Second, transparency strategies can, however, turn into surveillance and trigger new forms of data ordering, sorting, and aggregating practices. Third, disclosure practices create and undermine complex hierarchies and power relations for organizational members. The comparison of the cases demonstrates that it is crucial to observe the practical implications and multiple trajectories of transparency practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationToward Permeable Boundaries of Organizations?
EditorsLeopold Ringel, Petra Hiller, Charlene Zietsma
Number of pages30
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9781787438286, 9781787439917, 9781787438293
ISBN (Electronic)9781787438286, 9781787439917
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
SeriesResearch in the Sociology of Organizations

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