Previous Chapter Chapter 45: On Acting Responsibly in a Disorderly World: Individual Ethics and Administrative Responsibility Next Chapter

Linda deLeon

In: Handbook of Public Administration

Chapter 45: On Acting Responsibly in a Disorderly World: Individual Ethics and Administrative Responsibility

Edited by: B. Guy Peters & Jon Pierre

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781848608214.n46

Subject: Public Administration (general)

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On Acting Responsibly in a Disorderly World: Individual Ethics and Administrative Responsibility
On acting responsibly in a disorderly world: Individual ethics and administrative responsibility

Although the words ‘accountability’ and ‘responsibility’ mean similar things and are often used as synonyms, students of public administration have long distinguished between them. Accountability is used to refer to systems of external controls on individual behavior, which may be formal or informal. Responsibility, on the other hand, refers to the internal controls on behavior that are exerted by an individual person's beliefs and feelings. In common parlance, ‘responsibility’ has various shades of meaning. It can indicate the capacity to cause something — which Harmon (1995) terms agency: ‘Jones was responsible for our victory over Collingwood.’ It can mean a task assignment ...

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