Data Disclosure, Accountability and the Facets of Transparency

From: Yona Maro

A substantial literature links government transparency to political accountability, and hence to governance outcomes. Yet transparency is a multifaceted concept – broadly defined it may pertain to any aspect of information transmission. Theoretically, it is critical to assess what information is being transmitted, and transmitted to whom. Empirical work, however, has often neglected such distinctions, focusing instead on proxies for a nebulous conception of ‘openness.’

In this paper, we offer a framework for conceptualizing various forms of transparency. We introduce our own index of a particular facet of transparency – which focuses on the disclosure of aggregate economic data – and relate this form of transparency to other cross-national measures. We seek to take one step toward clarifying theoretical mechanisms and the empirical measures. In so doing, we also offer guidance on assessing which facets and measures of transparency are relevant to assessing which theoretical mechanisms.

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