Power of transparency

The power of transparency


There is also another dynamic that comes into play. One of the reasons that formal ties into a Global Guild are potentially so beneficial relates to how people behave when their actions, and the consequences of those actions, are visible – at least to other members of an inner-group. I have consistently observed this across all types of corporate and social communities. And importantly, the findings are also confirmed by ‘Game Theory’, a broad term to cover a branch of applied mathematics that models human behavior in situations in which a successful outcome is based upon the decisions of others.

The reason why transparency is useful is because in a situation, for example, of Competitive Overuse (maybe overfishing or overlogging) people tend to take less from a common resource if their actions are relatively public rather than private. What is more, the least greedy then build a positive reputation as a result of their behavior, which in due course can help them gain support on other issues. Broad public pressure, in addition to peer pressure, builds up against those who increasingly appear selfish. Those that are showing restraint begin to band together, because they now view themselves as being taken advantage of by the others. The more that they then communicate with each other, the more that the different factions identify themselves as part of the larger group, which makes it even less likely that any of them will act as ‘free riders’ and take advantage of the sacrifices made by the rest.

But all this only tends to happen if the full reality of who is doing what is kept public, at least within a group such as a Global Guild, especially if the different parties do not really know each other very well. And this is even truer if the reality is publicized to a far larger audience than just the main players themselves. However, that publication must be seen to be completely even-handed (ideally orchestrated by an independent party) because otherwise it is often seen as an attack by one party against another. This same overall pattern is observed playing out in global agreements where, even if there is no practical sanction against countries that break a deal, they will nevertheless be far less trusted on future issues. If their actions are fully reported by the world press then widespread domestic and international pressure also comes into play. And if, as a result of one country reneging, an overall global deal begins to unravel then – fairly on not – it is the first country that reneged that tends to be held responsible by the public. It is this same dynamic that the Global Guilds will by design have to engineer.