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.

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Daniel Schaupp
Daniel Schaupp
Assistant Professor of Accounting

My research interests include transparency, opportunisitc behavior in organizations and performance evaluation and feedback systems.