Thursday, October 7, 2010

Academic View: The Myth of Corporate Transparency

Via Newsbook @ The Economist.
Companies, then, struggle between two extremes. On the one hand, full disclosure about the features of products and services; on the other a minimum compliance with national legislation. Unfortunately, each represents a serious threat to both corporations and stakeholders. Full transparency is always associated with “data asphyxia”. Have you ever read the seven-point, 50-page text in your bank contract? On the other hand, strict compliance with national legislation minimises access to information that is relevant and which some stakeholders would be interested in: ask vegans how they felt when they discovered that McDonalds “forgot” to report that its French fries contained milk.
It seems evident that a balance is required. But achieving that requires managers to construct a well thought out information strategy that takes account of quite a long list of economic, social and, yes, even ethical issues. Successfully addressing this ethical expectation is more than a source of competitive advantage; it is key to gaining the trust of employees, current and potential customers, partners, and even competitors. By the same token, attempts to hide potentially relevant information or, even worse, disclosing false or confusing information, could be catastrophic and companies in many sectors (from banking to biomedical) have experienced the heavy costs of being caught out in these dirty games.
Click Here to Read: Academic View: The Myth of Corporate Transparency

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