Accountability and Ethics

  • Kristin Reichborn-KjennerudEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history


Accountability is a concept that no one can be against. It conveys an image of transparency and trustworthiness. It is increasingly used in political discourse and policy documents. The concept has many meanings and is partly overlapping with other concepts such as “responsibility.”

This chapter will first elaborate on why accountability is important. Subsequently different meanings of the concept will be presented. Lastly how the different meanings of accountability relate to the quality of government will be discussed.

Why “Accountability” Is an Important Concept

People’s natural inclination is to favor their own kind, whether it be family, friends, business associates, or other individuals or organizations that they have a close relation to. Modern democratic rule, on the contrary, has ethical universalism as an ideal. In this context it is necessary to move away from particularism and favoritism (Mungiu-Pippidi 2013). Many argue that accountability and control are a prerequisite...


Civil Servant Formal System Public Administration Public Organization Supervisory Board 
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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bovens M (2005) Public accountability. In Ferlie E. (eds), The Oxford handbook of public administration (pp. 422–445). Oxford, England: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Christensen T, Lægreid P (2011) The Ashgate research companion to new public management. In P Lægreid & T Christensen (eds), (pp. XVI, 505 s.). Farnham: AshgateGoogle Scholar
  3. Fukuyama F (2014) Political order and political decay. Profile books Ltd., LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Hood C (1991) A public management for all seasons? Public Adm 69(1):3–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Mulgan R (2000) ‘Accountability’: an ever-expanding concept? Public Adm 78(3):555–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Mungiu-Pippidi A (2006) Corruption: diagnosis and treatment. J Democr 17(3):86–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Mungiu-Pippidi A (2013) Controlling corruption through collective action. J Democr 24(1):101–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Power M (1997) The audit society: rituals of verification. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Reichborn- Kjennerud K (2013) Political accountability and performance audit: the case of the Auditor General in Norway. Public Adm 91(3):680–695Google Scholar
  10. Reichborn-Kjennerud K, Johnsen Å (2015) Performance audits and supreme audit institutions’ impact on public administration. The case of the Office of the Auditor General in Norway. Adm Soc. doi:10.1177/0095399715623315Google Scholar
  11. Rothstein B, Teorell J (2008) What is quality of government? A theory of impartial government institutions. Governance 21(2):165–190Google Scholar
  12. Rothstein B (2011) The quality of government: corruption, social trust, and inequality in international perspective. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public ManagementThe Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway