Creating transparency is oftentimes imagined as something that can easily be turned on or off. Zooming in, transparency is hard work. In a new paper published in Public Administration Review, Leonhard Dobusch and I have traced the multiactor negotiations that led to the creation of an overarching Open Data program in the city administration of Berlin. The abstract reads:
Transparency is in vogue, yet it is often used as an umbrella concept for a wide array of phenomena. More focused concepts are needed to understand the form and function of different phenomena of visibility. In this article, the authors define organizational transparency as systematic disclosure programs that meet the information needs of other actors. Organizational transparency, they argue, is best studied as an interorganizational negotiation process on the field level. To evaluate its merit, the authors apply this framework to a case study on the introduction of open data in the Berlin city administration. Analyzing the politics of disclosure, they consider the similarities and differences between phenomena of visibility (e.g., open data, freedom of information), explore the transformative power of negotiating transparency, and deduce recommendations for managing transparency.
Please check out a self-archived full text version of the article “Politics of Disclosure: Organizational Transparency as Multiactor Negotiation“.