Corporate dynamic transparency: the new ICT-driven ethics?
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The term “corporate transparency” is frequently used in scholarly discussions of business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR); however, it remains a volatile and imprecise term, often defined incompletely as “information disclosure” accomplished through standardized reporting. Based on the results of empirical studies of organizational behaviors, this paper identifies a new set of managerial practices based on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and particularly Internet-based tools. These practices are resulting in what can be termed “dynamic transparency.” ICT allows for an informational environment characterized by two-way exchange between corporations and their stakeholders, which fosters a more collaborative marketplace. It is proposed that such dynamic information sharing, conducted by means of ICT, drives organizations to display greater openness and accountability, and more transparent operations, which benefit both the corporations and their constituents. One of the most important outcomes that will accrue to consumers and other individuals is the “right to know,” especially about corporate strategies and activities that might directly affect their quality of life. This paper demonstrates that dynamic transparency is more desirable and more effective than the more common “static transparency” where firms’ information disclosure is one-way, usually in response to government regulation. We present three ethical arguments to justify the implementation by business firms of dynamic transparency and demonstrate that their doing so is related to CSR and to augment and complement stakeholder engagement and dialogue. The paper concludes with a summary of the possible limits to and the problems involved in the implementation of dynamic transparency for corporations, and suggests some strategies to counter them.
KeywordsTransparency Information and communication technologies Corporate social responsibility
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