The Transparency-Power Nexus: Observational Control and Productive Power

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    Abstract

    Transparency has emerged as a mainstay in the quest for more accountable and sustainable forms of organization and governance. This paper problematizes widespread assumptions about the virtues and downsides of transparency, including simplified notions of insight, control and surveillance. We argue that practices and ideals of organizational transparency are essentially ambiguous and work not merely as extensions of control or solutions to problems of power, but must be understood as sources of power and control in and off themselves. The paper offers an analytics of what we call “the transparency-power nexus” and illustrates how and with which power effects transparency has emerged a key concern in and around contemporary organizations. The main contribution of the paper is to unpack the relationship between transparency and power both along the lines of more conventional concerns with observational control and emergent understandings of the productive power of transparency.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2014
    Number of pages38
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventThe 30th EGOS Colloquium 2014: Reimagining, Rethinking, Reshaping: Organizational Scholarship in Unsettled Times - Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 3 Jul 20145 Jul 2014
    Conference number: 30
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    Conference

    ConferenceThe 30th EGOS Colloquium 2014
    Number30
    LocationRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
    CountryNetherlands
    CityRotterdam
    Period03/07/201405/07/2014
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