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ACCOUNTABILITY (IN MANAGEMENT THEORY)

Statistics Directorate    
Definition:
A key concept in modern management theory and practice. It means that managers are held responsible for carrying out a defined set of duties or tasks, and for conforming with rules and standards applicable to their posts.

Context:
The person or body to which the manager must report and answer for his or her actions are made explicit and he or she may be rewarded for good performance or suffer the consequences of inadequate performance. A manager of an organisational unit may also be held accountable for the actions of subordinate staff.

Governments introducing reforms in public management have generally tried to delegate greater flexibility and autonomy to managers as a means of improving efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. Since this gives the manager greater power to make decisions, the reforms have included much greater emphasis on accountability as a means of balancing and checking his exercise of that power. In relation to work carried out by government ministries and agencies, accountability may be:

- internal, to a higher level of management, in which managers are assessed on a regular basis on the way in which they have carried out the tasks set out in their job description, with pay increases and/or promotion prospects frequently dependent on the outcome of such assessments (performance appraisal);

- external, to parliament, the public or central agencies such as the supreme audit institution (SAI), for their own performance (and, in the case of senior officials, for the performance of the organisation which they manage).

Source Publication:
Effects of European Union Accession, Part 1: Budgeting and Financial Control, OECD SIGMA Paper No. 19, March 1998, Appendix 3: List of Useful Terms.

Cross References:
Accountability (environmental)

Statistical Theme: Public management

Created on Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Last updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2013