The Transparency–Power Nexus: Observational and Regularizing Control

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    Although transparency is often believed to mitigate the negative effects of power by providing access to the hidden sides of organizational and political life, extant research fails to specify how transparency more fundamentally relates to power. To make sense of this relationship, this article develops an analytical language along two dimensions: “observational control” and “regularizing control.” Within this framework, we look at (a) attempts to carry out control through observation, (b) identity-oriented forms of normative control, (c) strategically ambiguous articulations of transparency, and (d) attempts to normalize and institutionalize behavior across organizational settings through the use of reporting and ranking systems. In the concluding section, we discuss how our conceptualization might nuance and enrich future studies of the transparency–power nexus and we point to some important implications for management practitioners.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)385-410
    Number of pages26
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Observational control
    • Power
    • Regularizing control
    • Strategic ambiguity
    • Transparency

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