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Transparency and legitimacy

May 21, 2010

Global Guerrillas laments the behavior of the US Government/BP around the unfolding tragedy of the oil spill in the Gulf as an,

example of an approach, reinforced by ongoing global financial disasters, that uses media manipulation and confidence boosting as a substitute for real solutions.  It fails to punish bad behavior due to the need for collusion between the government and the offending corporations to construct the information campaign.  It fails to construct real solutions since the facts are not known and the number of people able to address the problem is extremely limited.  Also, since these people are the same people that caused the crisis, real solutions are avoided to prevent adverse publicity.  Most importantly, it is yet another body blow to the nation-state and the global market system as legitimate organizational constructs.

In organizational leadership, there is an inverse relationship between transparency and legitimacy.  As secrecy and obfuscation go up, societies collective support of the legitimate powers and roles of the organization go down.

This happens because (1) people don’t trust their leaders and the organizational systems serve their interests. Trust can break down to a point where people undermine the parts of the system that are beneficial (e.g vaccinations are hurting you more than polio or smallpox) and (2) there are fewer better solutions people lack information or open creative dialog about problems and possible responses.

This has always been the case, but the cause-effect time delay is getting shorter partly because the systems encompass many layers of social, financial and political systems and are more richly connected.

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