Taking Pluralism Seriously Within an Ethic of Accountability

  • Jesse DillardEmail author
  • Judy Brown
Part of the Advances in Business Ethics Research book series (ABER, volume 4)


In previous work, an ethic of accountability has been proposed as a useful framework for considering the rights and responsibilities of the various constituencies within social systems. Here, we review and refine an ethic of accountability and extend the discussion by considering ways to articulate it within a contested and pluralistic context. We propose agonistic pluralism as a way of theorizing the contested domain within which accounting and accountability systems are conceived, developed, and implemented. To take pluralism seriously requires moving beyond Habermas’ consensus oriented communicative action to a more realistic theorization that recognizes the inherent power asymmetries and antagonisms in contemporary liberal democracies. We offer agonistic pluralism as a theoretical alternative and discuss guidelines wherein it can be applied.


Public Interest Organizational Management Economic Institution Power Relationship Democratic Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund for supporting this research as part of a funded project on “Dialogic Accounting: The Challenge of Taking Multiple Perspectives Seriously”, Contract No. VUW1011.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Accounting and Commercial LawVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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