Defining Transparency: A Functional Approach

Eine Funktionsherangehensweise


  • Roberto Cruz Romero Universität Leipzig



transparency, accountability, information, institutions, functional definition


Transparency is a fuzzy concept within the governance literature; it is commonly linked, through blurry categorisations, to other concepts in the political science and public administration scholarship, such as accountability and corruption. This reflection piece seeks to tackle this blurriness and advance the concept’s analytical precision by presenting and discussing transparency’s main dimensions, as well as its framing within the scholarly body of good governance, democracy, and development. To do so, the reflection paper presents a novel approach; to define transparency in the form of a function (which places transparency in relation to, and as a function) of its two constituting dimensions: a) information (timely and qualitative), and b) accountability mechanisms (namely, a free media environment and legitimate accountability channels). Reviewing a sample of relevant and influential works in the broad field of transparency, these two dimensions are analysed highlighting the common analytical factors found in the scholarship, pointing towards potential applications of the novel functional approach framework. The focus is placed on the distinct institutional and contextual levels, addressing the various analytical determinants of transparency. In doing so, the reflection presents and discusses some prospective research hypotheses, marking the road for future theoretical and empirical research, as well as policy implications.


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How to Cite

Cruz Romero, R. (2023). Defining Transparency: A Functional Approach: Eine Funktionsherangehensweise. JeDEM - EJournal of EDemocracy and Open Government, 15(1), 219–242.