6 Aug 2012

Assessing accountability

The definition of accountability is not very sharp, from sources accessible via the internet. I decided to define the concept as I see it. I thought hard about persons in my life who I had considered to be ‘accountable’. I drew up a list of descriptors and then grouped them as shown below in my definition.

Accountability (defined) is the demonstration of:

  1. Trustworthiness
    1. openness, honesty, and probity.
  2. Responsibility for actions
    1. a willingness to explain actions.
    2. acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of actions, decisions or omissions.
  3. Mutuality
    1. playing by an agreed set of rules.
    2. demonstrating commitment to achieving standards, goals and values.
  4. Sound performance
    1. performing in a measurable evidence-based way.
  5. Willingness to maintain trust by the active avoidance of influences that may undermine the above factors.

As with almost all definitions, the above is unlikely to be complete. The concept may evolve with time, as I learn more. You may add to the above by introducing your own ideas about accountability.

I assert that any person, entity or system that exerts (or purports to exert) power or control over the lives of people needs to be accountable. However, accountability comes in various forms and may reach in to several spheres of our existence.

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