Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency

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About the Author:
Archon Fung, Mary Graham, and David Weil co-direct the Transparency Policy Project at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Packed with ideas and information, Full Disclosure is, by far, the best book to date on the problem of public transparency. The authors offer a host of indispensable lessons for citizens and policymakers in diverse domains, including education, pollution, national security, and health care. At the same time, Full Disclosure is an important contribution to democratic theory — and a great read to boot."
Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School

"Sunshine may indeed be the best disinfectant, in Louis Brandeis' words, but only if we know when, where, and how to shine the light. That is exactly the task that Full Disclosure sets itself. This is an important book at an important time, for everyone from mayors to senators to secretary generals."
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

"The authors have done us all a good service by offering sound analysis and ideas on how to make public policy transparent and accessible for all citizens. As the country heads into the 21st century, more transparent governance is just what we need."
Tom Daschle, Former Senate Majority Leader

"Governmental transparency efforts inform the public about additives in the food we eat, dangerous criminals in our neighborhoods, and the financial support of our political leaders. Full Disclosure offers several important lessons that will help give citizens easier access to vital information through the creation of better, more meaningful transparency policies."
Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico

"Superb...This rich, carefully researched, well balanced, and readily accessible study shows us that good governance, with legislators at the local, state, or national levels in the lead, is surely difficult but far from unattainable. This is hard-nosed scholarship demonstrating, as the authors themselves discovered, that pragmatism about both policy expectations and policy results should prevail among political leaders and citizens alike."
Brian J. Cook, Clark University, Perspectives on Politics

"Full Disclosure provides a wide-ranging and systematic analysis of targeted transparency in the United States...The book makes two key contributions: it clarifies the factors that determines whether policies are effective and it suggests that transparency measures are now entering a new phase when they can be even more useful to the public than in the past."
Paul Starr, The American Prospect

"It is a fantastically researched and excellently written....I suspect it is destined to become the definitive book in the area, and i recommend it to academics..."
Jay P. Shimshack, Political Science Quarterly

"A major contribution to our understanding of targeted transparency as a policy...Fung, Graham and Weil have provided a compendium and reference resource for thinking about how to structure transparency in the new governance..."
Lisa Blomgren Bingham, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

"Full Disclosure is a guide for policymakers, complete with the requisite "10 principles for an effective transparency policy" guide. It ought to make citizens wise to the tricks that commonly turn transparency policies into little more than symbolism."
Lee Drutman, San Francisco Chronicle

"In their thoughtful and constructive book, Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency, Archon Fung, Mary Graham, and David Weil provide an in-depth assessment of government mandated disclosure policies intended to reduce the costs to consumers created by imperfect information."
Clifford Winston, Brookings Institution, Journal of Economic Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521699617
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Archon Fung is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His research examines the impacts on public and private governance of civic participation, public deliberation, and transparency. He has authored three books, including Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy (2004); three edited collections; and more than fifty articles appearing in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Journal of Political Philosophy, Politics and Society, Governance, and Journal of Policy and Management.

Mary Graham is a Research Fellow at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Her research focuses on the use of information strategies to foster social change, the politics of public information, innovative approaches to health and safety regulation, and new trends in environmental policy. She is the author of Democracy by Disclosure (2002) and The Morning After Earth Day (1999). Graham has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Financial Times, Environment magazine, Issues in Science and Technology, Brookings Review, and other publications.

David Weil is Professor of Economics and Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Boston University School of Management. His research spans the areas of labor market policy, industrial and labor relations, occupational safety and health, and regulatory policy. He has published widely in these areas and has also served as advisor to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other government agencies. He has written two other books (including the award-winning A Stitch in Time: Lean Retailing and the Transformation of Manufacturing, 1999) and his articles have appeared in numerous journals including the RAND Journal of Economics, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Harvard Business Review, and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables     x
Preface     xi
Governance by Transparency     1
The New Power of Information     1
Transparency Informs Choice     5
Transparency as Missed Opportunity     7
A Real-Time Experiment     10
Transparency Success and Failure     14
How the Book Is Organized     15
An Unlikely Policy Innovation     19
An Unplanned Invention     20
The Struggle Toward Openness     24
Why Disclosure?     30
Designing Transparency Policies     35
Improving On-the-Job Safety: One Goal, Many Methods     35
Disclosure to Create Incentives for Change     37
What Targeted Transparency Policies Have in Common     39
Standards, Market Incentives, or Targeted Transparency?     46
What Makes Transparency Work?     50
A Complex Chain Reaction     51
New Information Embedded in User Decisions     54
New Information Embedded in Discloser Decisions     65
Obstacles: Preferences, Biases, and Games     71
How Do Transparency Policies Measure Up?     74
Crafting Effective Transparency Policies     90
WhatMakes Transparency Sustainable?     106
Crisis Drives Financial Disclosure Improvements     107
Sustainable Policies     109
The Politics of Disclosure     110
Humble Beginnings: Prospects for Sustainable Transparency     112
Two Illustrations     115
Shifting Conditions Drive Changes in Sustainability     118
International Transparency     127
How Do International Transparency Policies Work?     129
Why Now?     130
From Private Committee to Public Mandate: International Corporate Financial Reporting     133
Improving a Moribund System: International Disease Reporting     141
The Limits of International Transparency: Labeling Genetically Modified Foods     145
Toward Collaborative Transparency     151
Innovation at the Edge     152
Technology Expands Capacities of Users, Disclosers, and Government     154
Four Emerging Policies     158
Challenges to Collaborative Transparency     164
New Roles for Users, Disclosers, and Government     166
Looking Ahead: Complementary Generations of Transparency     169
Targeted Transparency in the Information Age     170
Two Possible Futures     171
When Transparency Won't Work     173
Crafting Effective Policies     176
The Road Ahead     180
Eighteen Major Cases     183
Targeted Transparency in the United States     183
Targeted Transparency in the International Context     208
Notes     217
Bibliography     257
Index     275
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