Is transparency the great equalizer?

Introduction     Is transparency the great equalizer? Our current government for one claim to be the most transparent administration ever.  The common argument involves whether full transparency is achievable without a self-service motivation behind it.  This discussion will explore the role of transparency in markets and the impacts on society.  The following areas will be discussed: (1) current trends, and (2) future research.
Current Trends      The concept of transparency and its impacts on society has been researched on numerous occasions.  Political figures, businesses, and governments tout their policies or financial decisions to their stakeholders as a sign of them being fully transparent in their dealings.  Edwards (2020) discusses transparency and its relationship with publicity as an underlining thought behind the concept of full transparency.  He further defines transparency and publicity in this way.  Transparency is generally associated with those who lead or govern and is used as a way to assign accountability to their actions.  Whereas publicity is a self-service act which is done to sway public opinion towards an idea or concept that is beneficial to the benefactor.  The current trend in discussing these two concepts is a term called promotional publicity which combines the idea that businesses are social actors, and they have a responsibility to respond to the market and society’s many demands for transparency.  The act of being transparent is supposed to be a formal nod towards certain moral and regulatory standards which will counter corruption while protecting citizens.      So, can you really quantity transparency and its impact on the markets and society?  My argument is that you can see the results (i.e., quantify them) of an organizations transparency decisions.  In Kempeneer’s (2021) research, it tries to do this very thing by evaluating the 2008 financial crisis as a case study.  The intent of this study was to determine how the use of big data played a role in making several wrong financial decisions.  Oftentimes data is presented to support transparency but if the benefactors mistrust the decisions or the process in formulating the data transparency will not be achieved.  Therefore, transparency can only be achieved through the confidence of the benefactor in the person or group presenting the data and not just based on self-service motivations.  Zook and Spangler (2023) supports my assertion that most benefactors accept big data when they trust the specific procedures that produces the outcome.Governments also play a vital role in determining how transparency impacts the markets and society.  Throughout this discussion, the concept of self-service has been presented to explain the motivations behind a benefactor’s use of transparency in their decisions.  In reviewing Marques et. al.’s (2021) study it supports my argument that transparency or an institutional void in transparency can impact the market and society.  This study examined the repercussions of a lack of transparency within the Brazilian economy that allowed unfair working conditions at the ground level to occur.  Since Brazil is an emerging economy, workers are not privy to numerous information streams (i.e., legitimate governmental regulations, social media, etc.) or regulatory guidance that allows them to combat faulty data masquerading as transparency efforts.  However, Brazil is not the only Government that touts transparency in their policy decisions.  Velut’s (2021) research examined transparency efforts in US trade policymaking.  A review of this study shows that during Barack Obama presidency (2009-2016), which claimed to be the most transparent ever, literally failed when it came to being transparent with their trade policy decisions.  As a result, US markets were negatively impacted by the constrained decisions made by the Obama administration.
Future Research     Based on my research, the role of transparencies in the market and on society is critical to stabilizing financial decisions made by business and individual benefactors.  The role of transparency in today’s markets and society is also a complex question.  Future research on the impacts of transparency is numerous in nature.  Edwards (2020) seeks further research that involves examining the compromises that a business or government makes in their own transparency decisions and whether they are self-serving.  Kempeneer’s (2021) believes that additional research in the areas of relational transparency would benefit society.  To combat institutional voids, Marques et. al. (2021) study supports the need for more research on the impacts of how transparency is influenced by governmental legislation.  This is in-line with Marques et. al.’s (2021) study which questions whether the current crisis in US trade policy will lead to more demands by US markets and society to be more transparent in future policy decisions.  Lastly, Zook and Spangler (2023) suggests that future efforts should focus not just on transparency practices but should also explore the organizational decisions-making process behind their independent decisions.   
References:Edwards, L. (2020). Transparency, publicity, democracy, and markets:  Inhabiting tensions through hybridity. American Behavioral Scientist, 64(11), 1531–1544.
Kempeneer, S. (2021). A big data state of mind:  Epistemological challenges to and transparency in data-driven regulation. Elsevier, 38(3), 1-8.
Marques, L., Erthal, A., Silva da Costa Moreira Schott, C. & Morais, D. (2021). Inhospitable accessibility and blurred liability:  Institutional voids in an emerging economy preventing supply network transparency. BAR – Brazilian Administration Review, 18(2), 1-28. 
Velut, J. B. (2021). Transparency in us trade policymaking:  Inclusive design or exclusionary process. New Political Economy, 27(4), 567-580.
Zook, M. & Spangler, I. (2023). A crisis of data? Transparency practices and infrastructures of value in data broker platforms. Annals of American Association of Geographers, 113(1), 110-128. 

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