Disentangling the Bright and Dark Sides of Transparency – An Integrated Analysis of Psychological Consequences

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The contemporary transparency narrative has recently evolved from a predominantly bright side of positive motivational influence to a more nuanced narrative integrating a potential dark side of transparency of demotivating threats to individual information privacy. Based on this more nuanced narrative, we try to provide a first empirical picture relying on an integrated model of direct and indirect psychological consequences of individual performance transparency. We propose a ‘bright’ path between transparency and psychological empowerment and a parallel ‘dark’ path through information privacy concerns. Using panel survey data of 401 employees of the finance function and structural equation modeling, we find that transparency has both a direct and indirect link to psychological empowerment. Taking a closer look at the dark path, we find that the link between transparency and information privacy concerns is moderated by core self-evaluation and relative performance information advantage. In contrast, we do not find a moderating effect of individual performance. With this study, we contribute a novel conceptual integration and first empirical examination of this duality of psychological consequences of transparency of individual performance. Additionally, we enrich the debate about potential moderating factors. Overall, we offer a more nuanced perspective on the value of transparency of individual performance in organizations.

Daniel Schaupp
Daniel Schaupp
Assistant Professor of Management Accounting

My research interests include contemporary performance management systems, transparency and the impact of digitalization on management accounting.