The pseudopanopticon: the illusion created by CSRrelated transparency and the internet Academic Article uri icon


  • PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine how corporate social responsibility (CSR) transparency claims are propagating a belief in a modern panopticon for ensuring responsible corporate behavior. Corporations use transparency claims to cultivate the impression of full disclosure. The paper aims to explore why people believe transparency ensures responsible behavior from corporations as well as the negative effects of this pseudopanopticon.Design/methodology/approachThe paper explores transparency in relation to CSR, CSR reporting, the internet, and activism and describes how their confluence produces pseudopanopticon.FindingsThe paper finds that the pseudopanopticon allows corporations to claim transparency in CSR communication and for stakeholders to accept that claim. The reality is that a minority of activist stakeholders bear the burden of ensuring true transparency by questioning disclosure.Social implicationsTransparency should be seen as a process, and it fails if activists cannot create public awareness of CSR shortcomings. The challenge is to find ways to make transparency as a process work in a world where apathy and selfdeception, in part facilitated by the pseudopanopticon, work against the process.Originality/valueThe paper builds on the process view of transparency by developing its implications for CSR communication. The result is a novel approach to CSR reporting and transparency that contributes to other critical voices concerned about the value and effects of CSR communication.

published proceedings

  • Corporate Communications An International Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J.

citation count

  • 75

complete list of authors

  • Coombs, W Timothy||Holladay, Sherry J

editor list (cited editors)

  • Golob, U.

publication date

  • January 2013