In my PhD project (supervised by Leonhard Dobusch) I studied the institutionalization of Open Data in and around the city administrations of Berlin, London and New York City. One of the questions I tried to answer was how organizations balance a public demand for information sharing with their inherent preference for informational control. My answers have now been published in an article entitled “Openwashing: A decoupling perspective on organizational transparency” in Technological Forecasting and Social Change as part of a Special Issue on the Sharing Economy (edited by Aurélien Acquier, Thibault Daudigeos and Jonatan Pinkse). The abstract reads as follows:
With the rise of digital technologies, organizations are able to produce, process, and transfer large amounts of information at marginal cost. In recent years, these technological developments together with other macro-phenomena like globalization and rising distrust of institutions has led to unprecedented public expectations regarding organizational transparency. In this study I explore the ways in which organizations resolve the tension between a growing norm to share internal information with the public and their inherent preferences for informational control. Through developing the notion of transparency decoupling, I examine how organizations respond strategically to transparency expectations. Drawing on studies of “open data” transparency initiatives in NYC, London, and Berlin, I inductively carve out three modes of institutional information decoupling: (a) selecting the disclosed information to exclude parts of the data or parts of the audience; (b) bending the information in order to retain some control over its representative value; (c) orchestrating new information for a particular audience. The article integrates literature from New Institutional Theory and Transparency Studies in order to contribute to our understanding of how information sharing is realized in the interaction between organizations and their environment.
If your institution does not provide access to the article just e-mail me and I would be happy to share it with you. You also find a pre-print version of the article linked on my personal blog.