The Institutionalisation of Non-responsibility – Efficiency or Conformity? Organisational Reform of Public Services Based on Accountability Theory Cover Image

Institucionalizace neodpovědnosti, efektivity, nebo konformity? Reformy organizací veřejných služeb v teorii akontability
The Institutionalisation of Non-responsibility – Efficiency or Conformity? Organisational Reform of Public Services Based on Accountability Theory

Author(s): Arnošt Veselý
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i.
Keywords: sociology of organisations; public sector; accountability; responsibility; new public management; EU-10

Summary/Abstract: The article examines several aspects of the organisational reform of public services in EU-10 countries based on accountability theory. First, it briefly summarises what reforms have been introduced and describes their internal contradictions. The author argues that these internal tensions stem not just from the introduction of ‘new public management’ ideas into a completely different context, but also from the fact that the conceptual bases of one of the key objectives of these reforms – greater accountability – are internally contradictory. To understand these inconsistencies, the author analyses the various meanings of ‘accountability’ and shows how the term differs from ‘responsibility’. He then examines the understanding of accountability as a type of social relation. The author also distinguishes the different forms that accountability can assume and defines the incompatible objectives and expectations that tie them together. In the second part of the article the author analyses reforms in the EU-10 and formulates three theoretical propositions on the nature of accountability and its potential consequences: (1) too much accountability operating in too many directions can lead to professional disorientation; (2) too much emphasis on the assessment of outcomes at the expense of an assessment of processes, which can result in a phenomenon that the author calls ‘the institutionalisation of conformity’; (3) the asymmetry of accountability, i.e. the uneven distribution among different actors of the responsibility to account for actions, which can generate a reduced sense of fairness and legitimacy.

  • Issue Year: 48/2012
  • Issue No: 04
  • Page Range: 757-784
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: Czech