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Transparency: The Word and the Doctrines – Workshop


Transparency is a term commonly used as shorthand reference for good governance: it is held to be central to both democracy and public services reform. Neither the term nor the doctrines are new – the early nineteenth century writer Jeremy Bentham described ‘transparent-managment – and other areas of public life and private enterprise have embraced it. Yet, for a term with invoked repeatedly in government circles throughout the world, its use and discourse differ. It is high time the term and doctrines of transparency were spelled out and given more critical attention than hitherto.

This one-day workshop for invited participants, convened by Christopher Hood, co-sponsored by the British Academy and the ESRC Public Services Programme, was held on 14 January 2005. Its topic was timely because the public access part of the UK Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1 January 2005. The workshop coincided with the start of the ESRC’s new ‘Public Services: Quality, Performance and Delivery’ programme and was followed by an evening reception to mark its launch.

Transparency Workshop Report (pdf)

Workshop Aims

The workshop aimed to bring together a selected group of scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds together with a few informed and experienced practitioners from appropriate backgrounds, to explore the idea of transparency in at least three ways:

(a) to trace out the history of ‘transparency’ and cognate doctrines in government and public policy;

(b) to compare the ideas and transparency across some different disciplines and fields of discourse;

(c) to take discussions of transparency beyond exchanges or statements of first principles. The aim is to explore what the introduction of transparency does to decision-making processes; how institutions respond to measures intended to increase transparency, with what consequences; what the relationship is between transparency ad institutional memory, candour and frankness in deliberation and cost of service provision.

Workshop Paper Abstract (Word doc)

Speaker Biographies (Word doc)


Delegates List (speakers in bold, discussants in italics)

Dr Michael Barzelay
London School of Economics

Professor Tim Besley
London School of Economics

Professor Patrick Birkinshaw
University of Hull

Professor Vernon Bogdanor
University of Oxford

Professor Jean Camp
Kennedy School of Government Harvard University

Dr Michael Duggett
International Institute of Administrative Sciences Brussels

Professor Robert Hazell
University College London

Professor David Heald (Co-chair)
Sheffield University

Professor Brian Hogwood
University of Strathclyde

Professor Christopher Hood (Co-chair)
University of Oxford

Dr Clare Leaver
University of Oxford

Dr Martin Lodge
London School of Economics

Professor Helen Margetts
Oxford Internet Institute

Dr Andrew McDonald
Department of Constitutional Affairs

Professor Ed Page
London School of Economics

Professor Christopher Pollitt
Erasmus University

Professor Andrea Prat
London School of Economics

Dr Matthew Quinn
National Assembly for Wales

Professor Alasdair Roberts
The Maxwell School Syracuse University

Ms Antonia Romeo
Department for Constitutional Affairs

Professor James Savage
University of Virginia

Dr Jean Shaoul
University of Manchester

Dr David Stasavage
London School of Economics