A synonym for openness is honesty. I have always preferred to talk in terms of openness because ‘honesty’ is the absence of deceit. Openness is a condition where deceit can not even take root. A small difference but I prefer the open environment to one that depends on ‘honest’ people being honest all the time.
The true underlying requirement for modern commerce is trust. Openness is the way to create trust over a broad array of circumstances. Commerce is carried out over vast distances and between untrusting people.
The original form of trade appears to have been one tribe putting its goods on a river bank and another tribe putting its goods on the opposite river bank. No trust was needed. The buyers on each side of the river were allowed to return to their side when the trade was considered acceptable by both sides.
Currency was a way to make trade easier by exchanging a universal coin, gold, for the goods and services. Little trust was needed. Stories about drug gangs selling merchandise for money then keeping both the drugs and the money are common fare in the world of fiction. Mostly fiction. Currency works fine, for most transactions, in lieu of trust, but more complex transactions such as shipping require more.
This is why some tribes with strong internal trust were able to carry on trade over long distances for several millennium. Phoenicians, Jews, Chinese families and the West African Fulani tribe became long distance intermediaries. A tribal member was present at each end of the transaction to verify the transaction.
More complex transactions over time required legal documents and courts. Both these elements required openness. The lawyers had to follow established published legal standards and the court records had to be public as well. The same became true of insurance contracts, stock exchanges and entire legal systems. All of these institutions required openness to be the basis for trust in commercial transactions.
The early days of modern commerce were built on all these open institutions, bond markets, stock markets, legal systems, contracts and trade treaties. As corporations emerged in commerce in the 1850’s laws and public filings became the form of openness. Today, openness in securities filings and banking transactions are vital for the survival and expansion of modern commerce.
It is hard for us to remember that every commercial institution plays a role in keeping the level of trust high for modern commerce. Banks guarantee the safety of their checks, credit cards and bank accounts. So does everyone else we give credit cards and checks to. These businesses are subject to openness at some level of audit, government examination and reputation.
The most important role of openness is inside of businesses. No one could run a business if they can’t fully trust every other person in the business, and expect openness about all management relations. If a manager gives directions to a peer or subordinate who fails to carry out the directions or report back accurately, then that person is forced out of the business and/or are other people who fail to report the breach. New people are not hired in the first place if the aura of deceptive behavior hangs over them.
I am the person who made international currency possible with the development of multi-bank issued credit cards that allow modern people to travel the world and buy and sell goods and services. That whole system is based on the long history of interbank trust which in turn is built on interbank openness. For the first few decades of bank credit cards, they all used an 'Interbank' symbol.
Trust is the core value of modern commerce that allows a tribes-woman in the back woods of Cameroon to sell her goods in Charleston South Carolina. Trust is based on a vast series of institutions that rely on openness.