A new book, "The Naked Corporation ¿ How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business," argues that there is no contradiction between good business and the values of honesty and openness, according to one reviewer.

Are the days of opacity in business really over? According to the book's publisher, the Internet, whistleblowers, aggressive news media, customers, trading partners, shareholders and community activists are gaining unprecedented access to information regarding corporate behavior, operations and performance ¿ from financial data, employee grievances and internal memos, to environmental disasters, product weaknesses, international protests, scandals and policies.

Corporations are essentially becoming naked and "if you're going to be naked," say the book's authors, Don Tapscott and David Ticoll, "you'd better be buff."

The book introduces a host of new buzzwords: forced transparency, active transparency, apparent transparency, transparency fatigue, values dissonance, and the transparency divide. The authors report how "opaque" firms that lacked integrity have been devastated and, yes, in some cases, reborn.

Among the book's conclusions:

  • Transparency and corporate values enhance market value: there is a competitive business case for strategies that focus on stakeholders and sustainability.

  • Companies, whether they know it or not, have a network of stakeholders called "stakeholder webs" that scrutinize their every move and can devastate or destroy a business.

  • Employees of an open enterprise have greater trust in one another and their employers ¿ resulting in lower costs, improved quality, better innovation and loyalty.

  • Transparency is critical to business partnerships ¿ lowering transaction costs between firms and enabling collaborative commerce.

  • Corporations that align their values with those of the communities they touch, and behave accordingly, develop sustainably competitive business models.