Transparency rights, technology, and trust

Ethics and Information Technology 11 (2):145-153 (2009)
Information theorists often construe new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as leveling mechanisms, regulating power relations at a distance by arming stakeholders with information and enhanced agency. Management theorists have claimed that transparency cultivates stakeholder trust, distinguishes a business from its competition, and attracts new clients, investors, and employees, making it key to future growth and prosperity. Synthesizing these claims, we encounter an increasingly common view: If corporations voluntarily adopted new ICTs in order to foster transparency, trust, and growth, while embracing the redistributions of power they bring about, both corporations and stakeholders would benefit. The common view is short-sighted, however. In order to realize mutual benefit, transparency can not be conceived merely as efficient or economical. The implementation and use of new ICTs will be morally unsatisfactory unless they stably protect stakeholders. Moreover, without such protections, transparency is unlikely to produce lasting trust and growth. More specifically, corporate disclosures ought to be guided by a theory of stakeholder rights to know about threats or risks to stakeholders’ basic interests. Such rights are necessary moral protections for stakeholders in any business environment. Respect for transparency rights is not simply value added to a corporation’s line of goods and services, but a condition of a corporation’s justifiable claim to create value rather than harm, wrong, or injustice in its dealings.
Keywords Corporations   ICT   Right to know   Technology   Transparency   Trust
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-009-9192-z
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

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Neil Kenneth McBride (2014). ACTIVE Ethics: An Information Systems Ethics for the Internet Age. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 12 (1):21-44.

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