Transparency, Legitimacy and Trust
June 16, 2014
By John Kamensky
[...] Licht says there are some policy decisions that involve what are called â€śtaboo tradeoffs.â€ť A taboo tradeoff, for example, would be making budget tradeoffs in policy areas such as health care and environmental quality, where human life or well-being is at stake. In cases where more money is an implicit solution, the author notes, â€śincreased transparency in these policy areas might provoke feeling of taboo, and, accordingly, decreased perceived legitimacy.â€ť
Other scholars, such as Harvardâ€™s Jane Mansbridge contend that â€śfull transparency may not always be the best practice in policy making.â€ť Full transparency in decision-making processes would include, for example, open appropriation committee meetings. Instead, she recommends â€śtransparency in rationale â€“ in procedures, information, reasons, and the facts on which the reasons are based.â€ť That is, provide a full explanation after-the-fact.
Licht tested the hypothesis that full transparency of the decision-making process vs. partial transparency via providing after-the-fact rationales for decisions may create different results, depending on the policy arena involved. MoreÂ»
Jane Mansbridge is is an affiliated faculty of the Ash Center.