The Reputational Basis of Public Accountability
Busuioc, E. Madalina
Governance: an international journal of policy and administration
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This paper proposes a reputation-based approach to account for two core puzzles of accountability. The first is the misfit between behavioural predictions of the hegemonic political science framework for talking about accountability, namely principal-agent, and empirical findings. The second puzzle is the unrivalled popularity of accountability, given evidence that supposedly accountability-enhancing measures often lead to opposite effects. A ‘reputation-informed’ theoretical approach to public accountability suggests that accountability is not about reducing informational asymmetries, containing ‘drift’, or ensuring that agents stay committed to the terms of their mandate. Accountability – in terms of both holding and giving – is about managing and cultivating one’s reputation vis-à-vis different audiences. It is about being seen as a reputable actor in the eyes of one’s audience(s), conveying the impression of competently performing one’s (accountability) roles, thereby generating reputational benefits.
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Busuioc, E. M. and Lodge, M. (2015), The Reputational Basis of Public Accountability. Governance. doi: 10.1111/gove.12161, which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/gove.12161. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
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