Transparency in business – so what?

This coming Thursday, 25 March, many folks will be attending the Social Business Summit in Sydney.

I will be on a panel discussing Transparency in Business – Risky or Essential?.

The debate will be moderated by Headshift’s Anne Bartlett-Bragg and Robin Hamman and the panel members are Nicholas Gruen (Gov2.0 TaskForce Chair); Sherre Delys (ABC Radio National), and me.

This topic has really got me thinking about transparency in business. It’s very much in vogue these days, with many people arguing for radical transparency. And I’ve been re-engaging with Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies at the same time.

An open society seems to me to be a necessary precursor to transparency; but there are so many barriers to openness and transparency. But then there is the question of who benefits from transparency – how do the different stakeholder groups benefit or suffer from transparency? These are all questions about power relationships and the nature of hierarchical relations.

So much to think about. But the question that keeps coming back to me is “transparency – so what?”