هیچ کس بی نقص نیست : محدودیت های شفافیت و اخلاق برای پاسخگویی هوشمند
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|1621||2009||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 34, Issue 8, November 2009, Pages 957–970
This paper draws on the work of Butler [Butler, J. (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press] to develop a critique of the operation and adequacy of transparency as a form of accountability. The paper begins with an exploration of accountability as subjection explored through Lacan’s account of the social dynamics of recognition, and Freud’s account of guilt. This analysis then informs an exploration of what is argued to be our typically ambivalent embrace of transparency as a form of accountability. The final section of the paper investigates the potential for a more ‘intelligent’ form of accountability, grounded in an ethic of humility and generosity, made possible by a conscious acknowledgement of the ways in which I can never quite know what it is that I am doing.
Now that the tide has gone out, the state of undress of many participants in financial markets is there for all to see: bare bottoms all over the place. Nobody can be proud of some of the ugliness that this credit crisis has exposed. Transparency requirements have many dimensions within the financial market regulatory framework… In appropriate circumstances, transparency has a useful role to play; for example, when it comes to dealing with opaque financial instruments. But I have always been of the view that when the stability of a financial institution is at risk, the situation is best resolved behind closed doors. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, gold-plated transparency rules stood in the way of a quiet resolution of a problem before it became a crisis. The result was that transparency rules that were intended to underpin investor confidence, when put to the test, actuallypromoted investor panic. It would surely be irresponsible for the regulators not to reflect on this experience and not to draw the appropriate lessons. Clearly transparency thatculminates in panic, followed by a rescue, followed by the proliferation of moral hazard is transparency that we would be better off without. Charlie McCreevy, European Internal Market Commissioner, 26 October 2007. The context for the above reflections was the rules that prevented Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, from discretely intervening as covert lender of last resort to forestall a run on the Northern Rock Bank. I have introduced them here since they serve as a summary of the themes that I wish to explore in the paper that follows. On the one hand, these comments rehearse the positive potentials of transparency as a regulatory instrument; the assumed capacities of transparency to counter opaqueness and, as McCreevy puts it, to thereby ‘underpin’ investor confidence. This is precisely the promise of transparency as a mechanism of accountability; to cast light upon what would otherwise remain obscure or invisible, and to do so in order to provide the basis for confidence for distant others. What must be observed first is that regulators have invested heavily in the potentials of transparency; the rules have been ‘gold plated’ as if an ideal of complete transparency is being pursued. We seem to believe in transparency, and with every failure of governance, we have been prone to invest in yet further transparency as the assumed remedy for all failures. This paper starts from the counter assumption that the ideal of a complete transparency is an impossible fantasy, but one that is nevertheless widely shared. The ideal of transparency pretends to a mere making visible. But what McCreevy describes here is what we might call the ‘performativity’ of transparency (MacKenzie, 2006). In this instance transparency did not reassure but rather was the cause of panic, crisis and moral hazard. Transparency has unintended effects such that the making visible starts to change that which is rendered transparent. In what follows I want to explore quite how transparency works back upon those subject to it in ways that are often counter productive, or at least far exceeds the passive image of a simple making visible. In setting out to explore the effects of transparency on the subject some clues can be taken from McCreevy’s reference to ‘pride’, ‘bare bottoms’ and ‘ugliness’. Transparency contains these dual and contrasting potentials and perhaps in binary form; it promises and threatens to reveal or discover the self as good or bad, clothed or naked, beautiful or ugly. In what follows, I explore how transparency works to advertise an ideal against which we will always fail so that it plays with my fears of being exposed and humiliated whilst at the same time encouraging me to take pride in what is disclosed. The final focus of the paper concerns the kind of accountability that McCreevy suggests should go on ‘behind closed doors’. Once doors are closed and transparency ceases to be a possibility then we are obliged to trust those on the other side, and yet the whole point of transparency is to obviate the need for such trust or to furnish distant others with good reasons for such trust. The implication of McCreevy’s comments is that only exceptional and very important matters should escape the obligations of transparency – in this case global financial stability. In contrast, here I seek to develop a more nuanced view of transparency’s capabilities and limitations, and suggest that at best it should serve as a supplement to the neglected potentials of what O’Neill (2002) calls ‘intelligent’ accountability. Whilst the metaphor of transparency suggests the capacity to see within or behind closed doors – to abolish such private and confidential space – in practical terms the effects of transparency depend upon how it changes conduct behind closed doors. In what follows I trace two contrasting potentials. The positive and arguably essential function of transparency is to counter the negative potentials of local collusion for distant others. As O’Neill (2006) argues, by giving a local presence to the interests of distant others, transparency can serve as a very effective ‘antidote’ to secrecy. But in what follows I argue that if we rely only on transparency as a form of accountability then these positive effects are often countered by serious distortions to communication which, paradoxically, serve to weaken the effectiveness of accountability. Drawing upon psychoanalytic accounts of recognition and guilt, I argue that the subjective correlate of the pursuit of an ever more complete transparency is often the embrace of an ideal of a perfect-able and fully transparent self. I argue that accountability is then typically self absorbed and driven by the narcissistic imperative to garner praise/reward to the self or absolve the self of blame, rather than by the collective need to manage organisational interdependencies. In contrast to these self-defensive or assertive potentials of accountability as transparency, I then seek to explore the potential for a more ‘intelligent’ and compassionate form of accountability grounded in the conscious acknowledgement of the impossibility of this ideal of a self that is fully transparent to itself and others. The stimulus for writing this paper came from reading Butler’s (2005) book Giving an Account of Oneself. Here Butler argues that it is simply impossible to give a full account of oneself; any account fails by virtue of that which is unavoidably opaque to the self both in relation to the origins and drivers of my own agency and the social norms and categories which furnish me with the frames within which I structure any account. Rather than taking this as an evidence of a sort of moral nihilism, she argues that the conscious acknowledgement of the impossibility of a self that is fully transparent to itself (and therefore others) could be the basis for a very different sense of responsibility and ethics grounded in humility and generosity, which in turn might allow for a very different enactment of accountability. In developing these arguments Butler draws very widely upon both psychoanalytic theory and philosophy, and in the context of this paper I can only follow some of the strands of her argument. The paper begins with an exploration of the importance and complexity of the practice of accountability. Here I follow Butler’s reading of Freud on the nature of guilt and of Lacan on recognition to capture some of the emotional force and paranoia which is arguably a routine part of the moment of being held to account. The paper then moves to explore the operation of transparency as a form of accountability within organisations. Drawing upon the existing literature I observe both the allure of the idea(l) of a complete transparency and the typically perverse organisational consequences that flow from the pursuit of this. The themes of recognition and guilt are used to explore what is argued to be our typically ambivalent embrace of transparency. In the final substantive part of the paper I return to Butler’s analysis of why it is impossible to give a full account of oneself, and the Levinasian version of ethics through which she seeks to outline the potential for an arguably more realistic and compassionate practice of accountability.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The more information we have about the world, the more we distance ourselves from what is going on and the less able we become in comprehending its full complexity. Information becomes a surrogate for the world – what is actually going on tends to be equated with what the relevant indicators (or images) say is going on’ (Tsoukas, 1997, p.833). This paper began with an extract from McCreevy’s reflections on the role of transparency in relation to the credit crisis. Writ all too large the crisis exemplifies Tsoukas’ observations. With the wisdom of hindsight, we were all too willing to believe that we knew what was going on, or at least that the credit rating agencies, salesmen, and regulators did. We were all too ready to believe that new ways of diffusing risk resulted in its dissipation, and we are still struggling to understand the complexity of the interdependencies created by markets for new credit products. McCreevy’s argument is that the conduct of regulators was itself compromised by the gold-plated transparency rules that now govern their conduct; that their important work should be excused from the rigours of transparency. My own argument here has involved a much more extensive critique which has sought to suggest the constitutional limits of accountability as transparency, and to explore the possibility of our doing accountability differently. I do not think that we can manage without transparency – it is an important check on local collusion and as such an essential source of confidence for distant others. In the context of the recent crisis it is evident that in some areas there was a dangerous lack of transparency; notably in relation to the over-the-counter credit default swap market and off balance sheet entities. Panic was arguably stimulated by this lack of transparency; by the fact that no one knew what exposures their counter-parties had, and in this way risk that had apparently been widely dissipated was suddenly everywhere. However, I have also sought to argue that we cannot manage only with transparency – our instinct to invest in yet more transparency as the only remedy for the failures of transparency – but rather should see transparency as at best a supplement to more context specific ‘intelligent’ accountability. The transparency of ‘fair value’, coupled with intense individual performance incentives, was arguably itself part of the problem; feeding ‘over optimism’ in financial markets, as well as the subsequent panic as asset values were written down (see Roberts & Jones, 2009). Significantly, informed insiders to the credit crisis have subsequently suggested the need not only for enhanced transparency, but also for new forms of accountability that supplement reliance on risk management models with institution wide brain storming around sources of risk, and that supplement institutional disclosure against Basel 11 with regular meetings between central bankers and individual institutions to review systemic risk (CRMPG, 2008). In such suggestions there is possibly a tacit acknowledgement that, whilst high rewards flowed on the basis of positive performance indicators, intelligence was self-censored out of organisational processes. As Strathern has observed, what is odd about our embrace of transparency is that ‘everyone knows’ about its inadequacies: that transparency involves a simplistic abstraction and de-contextualisation from the complexity of the world (Strathern), that it undermines trust as it seeks to create it (Tsoukas), encourages deception as it seeks to make possible a complete visibility (O’Neill), promotes blame avoidance (Hood), and transforms organisational purpose into the mere management of performance indicators (Power). In my own analysis I have drawn upon Lacan’s account of the importance of recognition in the formation of the subject, and Freud’s account of the genesis of guilt to explain why we continue to invest in transparency despite the fact that ‘everyone knows’ of its limitations. The meconnaissance that Lacan insists is founded in the child’s identification with the mirror image describes the ways in which I am prone to be caught in the lure of images; to locate my very existence in the image and to grasp the self as a coherent, autonomous and substantial entity. I have argued that it is this illusion of recognition that gives transparency its power over us. The promise/threat of authoritative recognition, of possible success and/or humiliation, acts to ensnare us. The snare does not even need my own belief as long as I believe that others might believe in what transparency discloses about my self. Distance, both spatial and hierarchical, only reinforces these effects as my transparent self travels beyond all possibility of elaboration, explanation or justification and yet continues to attract consequences to itself. I must then, to secure this transparent self, work hard to meet the ideal transparency establishes, or at least work hard to create the appearance of my conformity to the ideal. This imperative to meet the ideals of transparency gives rise to a particular form of ethics, aptly described by Butler as ‘ethical violence’ and ‘moral narcissism’. We do not typically associate the pursuit of high ideals with violence and yet I think that accountability as transparency is often characterised by an anxious paranoia. Violence describes my own relationship to myself – the ways in which I constantly berate the self for being less than ideal – as well as the ways in which I seek temporary relief from such self-persecution through finding opportunities to attack the failures of others. Similarly, narcissism seems not to belong with morality. Yet the effect of accountability as transparency seems all too often to be a defensive or assertive preoccupation only with myself, and my own continuous self-improvement and advancement, which has as its correlate an indifference to, or neglect of the interdependencies within which my own self interest is nested. Cynical dis-identification can seemingly offer me some distance from the threat of transparency but often serves only to make my practical conformity easier. The subjective correlate of the pursuit of a complete transparency is the pursuit, or at least presentation, of an already perfect self; of a self that knows what it is doing. Again it is important to emphasise the value of transparency as a source of confidence to distant others and, precisely because of the recognition that it threatens, as a powerful counter to local collusion. Transparency becomes problematic only when we believe in its perfection; when we believe or act as if all there is to accountability is transparency; that transparency is adequate and sufficient as a form of accountability. As we have seen, O’Neill traces this tendency to a ‘fantasy of total control’. For the boss this can take the form of repeated investment in ever more extensive measures in an attempt to fabricate the certainties of knowing in advance and at a distance, and thereby escape the anxiety of real dependence. But I have suggested that the boss’s fantasy requires, as its necessary complement, my own desire for authoritative recognition of myself as a coherent, and autonomous entity. What my narcissism misses, part of its own performativity, is the recognition it confers on transparency itself; the way that it reproduces the status quo in an all too eager and plastic collusion. There is, in a sense, much less to worry about if I assume that ‘they’ must know what they are doing and thereby avoid the risks and responsibility of challenging the relevance or adequacy of the standards which transparency advertises and enforces. It is precisely in this avoidance of risk (to my recognition) that accountability loses it potential force as a vital social practice, and instead slips into a narcissistic preoccupation with my own beauty and perfection as reflected in and rewarded by performance indicators. In developmental terms Lacan’s account of what he calls the ‘imaginary’, which I have explored here in terms of (mis)recognition, must be followed by the further alienation of the subject in the ‘symbolic’. O’Neill’s elaboration of a notion of ‘intelligent’ accountability similarly points to the necessity to go beyond the mesmerizing demand for authoritative recognition in order to reclaim the full discursive power of the practice of accountability. Significantly Kaplan and Norton, whom we might be tempted to blame for the proliferation of transparencies similarly point in this direction when they insist that ‘The Balanced Scorecard should be used as a communication, informing, and learning system, not as a controlling system’ (1992). Transparency can at best signal the need for intelligent accountability, but it cannot furnish us with the terms of such a conversation. The value of Butler’s insistence on the impossibility of my giving a full account of myself lies not only in the way that it brings into sharp relief the anxiety, violence and narcissism that are a routine part of accountability as transparency, but also in the way that it furnishes us with an ethic of humility and generosity with which to approach intelligent accountability. In relation to myself there is a certain compassion to be demanded if I can acknowledge that I can never quite know what it is that I am doing. I may then be more modest about myself and more willing to acknowledge the value of the abilities and capacities of different others, and my dependence upon them. To acknowledge my own incoherence is, however, to discover others’ incoherence – the always frail and partial grounds upon which their own demands on me are built. What emerges in this space is something of the weight of our practical dependence upon each other which accountability as talk, listening, and asking questions then allows us to explore and investigate. Accountability is thereby reconstituted as a vital social practice – an exercise of care in relation to self and others, a caution to compassion in relation to both self and others, and an ongoing necessity as a social practice through which to insist upon and discover the nature of our responsibility to and for each other.