Su­per­hero or busy­body: Can trans­par­ency solve the prob­lems of our time?

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Collaborative Research Centre "Accounting for Transparency" publishes explanatory video and pillar page

Tax evasion, climate change, financial crises - transparency is often the means of choice for tackling current problems. For example, through new disclosure requirements for companies and banks - or through CO2 labelling for food, which is intended to encourage consumers to consume more sustainably. But can transparency always deliver what it promises? In an almost six-minute explanatory video, the Collaborative Research Centre "TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency" shows in an easy-to-understand way when transparency is necessary and useful, when it becomes a problem - and how transparency research in the field of taxation and accounting can help to overcome current challenges. The video is embedded in a so-called Pillar Page, which elaborates on the topics outlined in the video in more detail and refers to specific research in the form of blog posts, press releases, websites and publications.

"Some days, the world seems to be drowning in a sea of problems: tax and accounting scandals cause unrest. In the markets and in our living rooms. Pandemics and other crises threaten the global economy - and climate change threatens our livelihoods. Transparency is one of the things that is often sent to solve the problems of our time. But can it really deliver what it promises?" is how the new explanatory video from the Collaborative Research Centre "TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency" (TRR 266) begins.

In the video, TRR 266 scrutinises transparency and thus disclosure obligations, tax regulations and political decisions of recent years. The video makes it clear how transparency comes about, when transparency is helpful, what unintended side effects it can have and when it becomes a problem. The Collaborative Research Centre explains these relationships using specific TRR 266 research projects on topics that are currently affecting the economy and society, such as climate change, tax evasion, the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises. The conclusion of the video: "Transparency is not infallible - but through transparency research, it can be designed to help solve the problems of our time."

For example, the TRR 266 researchers are developing measures that make it transparent to companies and other stakeholders when and in what form it is worth investing in renewable energies. They are investigating which aid measures help companies to successfully survive crises. Or to what extent, for example, country-by-country reporting, i.e. the disclosure of country-specific tax information, actually helps to avoid tax evasion - and what concrete economic effects this form of transparency has.

"It is important to us that our research can help solve current challenges. To do this, however, it must also be visible, accessible and understandable for all stakeholders in society," explains the spokesperson of TRR 266, Prof. Dr Dr h.c. Dr h.c. Caren Sureth-Sloane, Professor at the University of Paderborn. "Publishing our results in scientific publications is not enough. We have therefore developed a new format that facilitates access, especially for non-scientifically interested parties."

The explanatory video and pillar page are the first in a series that will regularly illustrate the research and specific research findings of TRR 266 on current topics such as sustainability, crises, tax evasion and other current challenges.

Background information on TRR 266

The Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency" started in July 2019. In May 2023, the German Research Foundation (DFG) decided to extend the CRC for an initial four years. It is the first CRC with a focus on business administration. Over 100 researchers from nine universities are involved in the SFB: Paderborn University (host university), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the University of Mannheim, as well as researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, the University of Cologne and Leibniz University Hannover. The researchers are investigating how accounting and taxation influence the transparency of companies and how regulations and corporate transparency affect the economy and society. The SFB's funding volume for the second funding period amounts to around 18 million euros.

Further information and the Pillar Page can be found at:

The explanatory video is available at:

This text has been translated automatically.


business-card image

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Caren Sureth-Sloane

Betriebswirtschaftslehre, insb. Betriebswirtschaftliche Steuerlehre

Spokesperson of the TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

Write email +49 5251 60-1781