AbstractDifferent directions of transparency play out differently in various contexts. Just like some plants need specific conditions to grow, different forms of transparency can only flourish within certain outer conditions of societal and institutional arrangements. Downwards transparency in totalitarian states will take a different form from downwards transparency in so-called participatory democracies, and again different forms if one attempts a cross-comparison among states with the same political system. Habitats themselves are not to be considered static entities, unilaterally constraining the efficiency of directions transparency can take. Rather, institutional frameworks might very well be affected if variations of transparency not typical for the habitat develop and turn out to be successful. The differentiations made here raise questions about the nature of transparency. If transparency occurs in different forms, to different degrees and takes different directions, how can we evaluate it? Does transparency have an instrumental or an intrinsic value?