Difference Between Transparency and Accountability

Transparency vs Accountability
 

Even though the terms Transparency and Accountability often go together, there is a difference between these two words. Both terms are used in a wide variety of settings such as in businesses, governance, and media. Transparency refers to conducting activities or performing actions in an open and clear manner. On the other hand, accountability can be defined as being responsible for one’s actions and having the ability to provide sound reasoning for actions. This highlights that there is a difference between the two terms and that they cannot be used interchangeably. Through this article let us attempt to examine the differences between these two words.

What is Transparency?

Transparency is clarity and openness in actions. Especially when it comes to various organizational bodies in the society, transparency is viewed as one of the core values based on which customer credibility rises. If the policy frameworks of an organization are not open, and if the organization fails to provide the necessary information to various parties, such an organization is not trusted by the customers.

Along with the advancement of technology and the widespread of the internet, transparency among the public has heightened greatly. Critics, however, believe that too much of transparency can also create problems in the society.

Difference Between Transparency and Accountability

A good government has transparency

What is Accountability?

Unlike transparency which focuses on openness, accountability can be viewed as a form of acknowledgment. This can simply be defined as being obliged to explain actions or decisions. It is taking responsibility for one’s actions. Accountability operates on a number of levels in the society starting from the individual level and extends till the institutional level. Within organizations, accountability is usually considered as one of the ethics of employees.

For example, a group leader should take responsibility for the performance of the group as well as the decisions that he takes on behalf of the groups. In the same way, group member should also be accountable for their individual contribution towards the task performance as well as the collective effort.

When speaking of accountability in relation to fields such as politics and even media, the responsibility that falls on individuals is much greater. Let us take politics for further elaboration. Politicians are accountable to the general public in the implementation and framing of policies and governance.

Transparency vs Accountability

Every group member should be accountable for their individual contribution

What is the difference between Transparency and Accountability?

• Definitions:

• Transparency refers to conducting activities or performing actions in an open and clear manner.

• Accountability refers to being responsible for one’s actions and having the ability to provide sound reasoning for actions.

• Focus:

• Transparency focuses on openness and clarity.

• Accountability focuses on acknowledgement and being responsible for one’s actions.

• Connection between Transparency and Accountability:

• Usually, transparency is considered as a pre-requisite of accountability as well. This is because for an action to be evaluated properly there should be access to all necessary information. If the access is denied, then accountability cannot be proven.

Both transparency and accountability are viewed as necessary conditions for good management. This applies in a large variety of settings starting from the individual to organizations.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. North Block Delhi by Laurie Jones (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Group via Wikicommons (Public Domain)