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Book part
Publication date: 25 July 2008

Dwight D. Frink, Angela T. Hall, Alexa A. Perryman, Annette L. Ranft, Wayne A. Hochwarter, Gerald R. Ferris and M. Todd Royle

Accountability is ubiquitous in social systems, and its necessity is magnified in formal organizations, whose purpose has been argued to predict and control behavior. The…

Abstract

Accountability is ubiquitous in social systems, and its necessity is magnified in formal organizations, whose purpose has been argued to predict and control behavior. The very notion of organizing necessitates answering to others, and this feature implies an interface of work and social enterprises, the individuals comprising them, and subunits from dyads to divisions. Because the nature of workplace accountability is multi-level as well as interactive, single-level conceptualizations of the phenomenon are incomplete and inherently misleading. In response, this chapter sets forth a meso-level conceptualization of accountability, which develops a more comprehensive understanding of this pervasive and imperative phenomenon. The meso model presented integrates contemporary theory and research, and extends our perspectives beyond individual, group, unit, or organizational perspectives toward a unitary whole. Following this is a description of challenges and opportunities facing scholars conducting accountability research (e.g., data collection and analysis and non-traditional conceptualizations of workplace phenomenon). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, as are directions for future research.

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Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-004-9

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Hayley Pearson and Margaret Sutherland

Business, society and academic literature all show an increase in the demand for greater accountability. Although accountability is deemed to be central to performance in…

Abstract

Purpose

Business, society and academic literature all show an increase in the demand for greater accountability. Although accountability is deemed to be central to performance in the workplace, it is an ever-expanding, complex and elusive phenomenon. There is very little empirical research in human resource literature on accountability’s wide-ranging antecedents and how they are best implemented. This paper aims to set out to identify which factors have the greatest influence when holding an individual to account.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative, exploratory research methods were adopted. Twenty semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with CEO’s, executives, human resource experts, senior managers and consultants in eight industries in South Africa. The data were analysed by thematic content analysis.

Findings

The findings identified five dominant antecedents that are required to effectively hold an individual to account for their performance. These are the culture and leadership of the organisation, the systems in the organisation, the values and recruitment means of the individual and the clarity of role. For each of these factors, the key management mechanisms were identified.

Research limitations/implications

The study was done in one country (South Africa) and only with senior executives.

Practical/implications

A “System of Accountability” model was developed depicting the interdependence of the factors and conceptualising a process that can be followed for human resource professionals and senior management to develop a culture of accountability.

Originality/value

There is a dearth of literature and empirical research on how to implement a combination of systems to ensure accountability in the workplace. This research offers some solutions to that gap in the literature.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2007

Salvador Carmona and Mahmoud Ezzamel

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and critique the growing literature on record‐keeping practices in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt with a particular focus on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and critique the growing literature on record‐keeping practices in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt with a particular focus on processes of ancient accountability, and provide a research agenda for future work.

Design/methodology/approach

Analyzes the contributions of accounting historians in this area as well as the research conducted by Assyriologists and Egyptologists. Our analysis emphasizes the embeddeness of ancient processes of accounting and accountability in their wider contexts.

Findings

A framework is proposed comprising levels and spheres of accountability. The levels of accountability consist of: hierarchical; horizontal; and self, all entailing both accounting and non‐accounting elements. Furthermore, accountability is analyzed at three spheres: the individual‐state, the state‐individual, and the individualindividual.

Originality/value

Further research in this area might examine issues such as the temporal dimension of accountability and whether more precise time measures than those reported in the extant literature were enforced in ancient economies; how the ancients dealt with differences between actual and expected measures; examination on the extent to which accountability exerted an impact on, and the role of accounting in, ordering the lives of individuals and communities; and examination of the trajectories of accounting and accountability across different historical episodes.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2008

David A. Shupe

The purpose of this paper is to present the full range of choices that academic institutions presently have for attending to educational results.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the full range of choices that academic institutions presently have for attending to educational results.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of a systematic comparison of the eight models currently available to colleges and universities for attending to educational results, relative to four necessary organizational purposes: individual student improvement, individual student accountability, organizational improvement, and organizational accountability.

Findings

This is a time of innovation, not of standardization. As new choices become available, the standard for accountability for educational results continues to rise.

Originality/value

The choices, ranging from established practices to expected alternatives to unexpected innovations, differ significantly in their capacities.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1991

Marceline B.R. Kroon, Paul't Hart and Dik van Kreveld

This study explores the effects of different structures of accountability on the development of groupthink. Specifically, the differences between individual and collective…

Abstract

This study explores the effects of different structures of accountability on the development of groupthink. Specifically, the differences between individual and collective accountability are examined and contrasted to a condition with no accountability. The groupthink phenomenon can be differentiated into collective avoidance, arising from a pessimistic perception of a decisional issue, and collective overoptimism. It is argued that structures of accountability can either promote or reduce groupthink, depending upon the way group members perceive the decisional issue. We tested the hypothesis that accountability can prevent the collective‐avoidance type of groupthink, and that individual accountability will be more effective in doing so than collective accountability, by preventing the possibility to “hide in the crowd.” The results confirm that under conditions conducive to collective avoidance, individual accountability is more effective in reducing groupthink‐like tendencies than collective accountability. However, group members expecting to be collectively responsible still display less symptoms of groupthink than control groups. In particular, accountability makes groups display more difficulty to reach consensus, stimulates group members to try to influence the decision making, results in a more equal dispersion of influence within the group, and in less risky decisions. Some methodological concerns regarding research on groupthink and accountability, and the implications of the findings for future research in this area are discussed.

Details

International Journal of Conflict Management, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1044-4068

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2019

Anna-Karin Stockenstrand

The purpose of this paper is to add to our understanding of how external factors such as funding and external accountabilities affect the organisational inner workings…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add to our understanding of how external factors such as funding and external accountabilities affect the organisational inner workings, especially identity issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a comparative case study of two professional chamber orchestras, one in Sweden and one in the UK. The two orchestras had significantly different funding conditions and had different relations with funders and were thus exposed to different kinds of accountability dilemmas. The two organisations were studied using and ethnographically inspired approach. The developments of various parts of the organisations were studied, such as funding, management, strategy, management control and identity issues.

Findings

The paper illustrates how the solution to accountability dilemmas in an organisation can, over time, result in the protection or the dilution of a perceived organisational core and thus in an identity struggle. Especially, management has to deal with the balance between financial and operational accountability, where organisational members could perceive the decisions to be confirming or rejecting what they perceived as being the higher purpose of their work.

Practical implications

This paper may help managers become more aware of the long ranging consequences of managerial decisions and how such decisions may affect the identity orientation of organisational members.

Originality/value

The paper combines the concept of identity with the concept of accountability, something that has not been done to a large extent in previous research.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Jinhua Chen, Graeme Harrison and Lu Jiao

This paper examines how lateral accountability mechanisms may be used to address the unity–diversity tension in a large not-for-profit (NFP) inter-organizational…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines how lateral accountability mechanisms may be used to address the unity–diversity tension in a large not-for-profit (NFP) inter-organizational partnership governed under a lead organization model.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was conducted in the New South Wales Settlement Partnership comprising 23 NFP organizations providing settlement services for migrants and humanitarian entrants. Multiple data sources included semi-structured interviews, proprietary and publicly available documents and observation.

Findings

The paper demonstrates (1) the usefulness of a strength-based approach that the lead organization adopts in enacting lateral accountability mechanisms, which enables a balance between unity and diversity in the partnership; and (2) the capability of the lead organization governance model to address the unity–diversity tension.

Research limitations/implications

The paper (1) identifies the importance of a strength-based approach in implementing lateral accountability mechanisms to address the unity–diversity tension; and (2) challenges prior research that advocates the network administrative organization governance model in addressing the tension.

Practical implications

For practice, the paper identifies a suite of lateral accountability practices designed to address the unity–diversity tension. For policy, it provides confidence for government in promulgating the lead organization governance model in “purchasing” public services.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates how lateral accountability mechanisms may be used to provide a balance between the objectives of preserving and leveraging the benefits of partner diversity and achieving unity. The strength-based approach (used in enacting the accountability mechanisms), while having a history in psychology and social work research, has not been recognized in prior partnership accountability and governance studies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2019

Rachael L. Lewis, David A. Brown and Nicole C. Sutton

The purpose of this paper is to reframe the debate about the tension between management control and employee empowerment by drawing on a theory of paradox. Reframing the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reframe the debate about the tension between management control and employee empowerment by drawing on a theory of paradox. Reframing the problem in this way draws attention to the variety of ways in which organisations can attend to both control and empowerment simultaneously.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors undertake a conceptual examination of the relationship between empowerment and control using a paradox theory lens. First, the authors bring together two dimensions of empowerment – structural empowerment and psychological empowerment – and combine them to produce three new empowerment “scenarios”: illusory empowerment, obstructed empowerment and authentic empowerment. For each of these three scenarios, the central tenets of paradox theory are applied in order to explain the nature of the paradoxical tension, anticipated behavioural responses and the resulting challenges for ongoing management control.

Findings

The authors find that neither structural nor psychological empowerment alone can account for variation in behavioural responses to management control. The conceptual analysis highlights the interplay of socio-ideological control and systems of accountability in generating psychological empowerment and demonstrates that this does not come at a cost to management control but instead results in a reduction in the scale and scope of ongoing challenges.

Originality/value

This paper contributes a new theoretical perspective on the classic problem of tension between management control and employee empowerment. Rather than positioning control and empowerment either as a managerial choice or dialectic, the authors identify three different ways in which organisations can engage with both paradoxical elements simultaneously.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Zehava Rosenblatt

The purpose of this paper, three-study research project, is to establish and validate a two-dimensional scale to measure teachers’ and school administrators’ accountability

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper, three-study research project, is to establish and validate a two-dimensional scale to measure teachers’ and school administrators’ accountability disposition.

Design/methodology/approach

The scale items were developed in focus groups, and the final measure was tested on various samples of Israeli teachers and principals. Real-life accountability scenarios, individual work characteristics and performance evaluation were used for the validation. Correlational as well as multi-level statistical procedures were employed.

Findings

Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the two-dimensional structure: external and internal. Study 1 confirmed the convergent validity of the scale vis-à-vis accountability scenarios in teachers’ work. Study 2 confirmed its construct validity vis-à-vis related individual work characteristics such as goal orientation, work ethic and conscientiousness, using school principals as participants. Study 3 confirmed the scale’s predictive validity vis-à-vis teacher work performance.

Research limitations/implications

The scale developed in this study may be used to enhance research on the personal aspect of accountability, contributing to a better understanding of educational systems operating in an accountability environment.

Practical implications

The study offers researchers a tool to measure accountability from an individual perspective. The two-dimensional scale developed in this study may help to point out individual differences in teacher accountability disposition.

Social implications

The ability to assess personal accountability may contribute to society’s concern with school accountability and its effect on educators’ work.

Originality/value

Educational research in recent years is replete with studies on school accountability, but relatively little has been written on accountability at the individual level of analysis. Few scales exist that measure educators’ self-report accountability.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 12 April 2018

Ting Yu, Ko de Ruyter, Paul Patterson and Ching-Fu Chen

This study aims to explore the formation and consequences of a cross-selling initiative climate, as well as how a service climate, which provides an important boundary…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the formation and consequences of a cross-selling initiative climate, as well as how a service climate, which provides an important boundary condition, affects both its formation and its ultimate impact on service-sales performance. This article identifies two important predictors of a cross-selling initiative climate: frontline employees’ perceptions of supervisors’ bottom-line mentality and their own sense of accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The multilevel data set includes 180 frontline staff and supervisors (team leaders) from 31 teams employed by a spa/beauty salon chain. Hierarchical linear modelling and partial least squares methods serve to analyse the data.

Findings

Supervisors’ bottom-line mentality disrupts a cross-selling initiative climate. A sense of accountability exerts a positive impact at both individual and team levels. A service climate at the team level weakens the impact of a sense of accountability on a cross-selling initiative climate. A cross-selling initiative climate has a positive effect on team-level service-sales performance, but this effect is weakened by the service climate.

Originality/value

This study conceptualises an important frontline work unit attribute as a climate. It offers an initial argument that a cross-selling initiative climate is a central factor driving a work unit’s service-sales performance, which can increase firms’ productivity and competitive advantages. With this initial attempt to explore the antecedents and consequences of a cross-selling initiative climate, the study also offers novel insights into the interplay between a service and a cross-selling initiative climate.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 52 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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