Key Concepts in Governance provides a clear introduction to the technical concepts and policies of contemporary governance through short definitional essays. Each entry features a snapshot definition of the concept, a contextualization of the concept, an overview of relevant debates, and a guide to further reading. The book also includes a substantial introductory chapter which gives an overview of governance studies as a whole, orientating and guiding the reader around the issues that the concepts address.
The word ‘accountability’ derives from the Latin word computare, which literally meant ‘to count’, and which denoted book-keeping and forms of financial record-keeping. Today, however, the word ‘accountability’ conveys a more general sense of ‘giving a report of oneself. As such, it overlaps with concepts like ‘responsibility’ and ‘liability’.
So, accountability can be defined in the following manner: when people are meant to pursue the will and/or interests of others, they give an account of their actions to those others who are then able to decide whether to reward or censure them for the actions. Accountability thus conveys the idea that an agent (such as an elected politician or a civil servant) is responsible for acting on behalf of a principal (such as a citizen ...