A4 Article in conference proceedings
Accountability to competing account-receivers, implicit and explicit: A case of contests between accountabilities for perfect and imperfect truths

List of Authors: Terhi Chakhovich, Oana Apostol
Publication year: 2018
Book title *: 11th Conference on New Directions in Management Accounting, papers
ISSN: 2295-1717


Accountability literature has usually conceptualized
accountability as a phenomenon that principally involves two parties: the
account-giver and the account-receiver. When accountability between these two parties fails,
it is challenging to understand the reasons for this, especially if the
account-giver appears to demonstrate good intentions. We show here how a reason
for such failure could be that the account-giver implicitly brings in “a third
party” to compete with the actual account-receiver. We show how this takes
place and what the consequences are. Relying on a case organization
with indoor air problems, we illustrate that accountability is there
conceptualized from the perspective of truth, i.e. as accountability for truth.
We present two forms of such accountabilities: accountability for perfect truth,
i.e. for the “unerring” technical results about the indoor air as provided by
measurement instruments, and accountability for imperfect truth, i.e. truth
about employee safety and about how to avoid the symptoms employees feel they
receive in the premises. Within the accountability for imperfect truth, account-receivers
are seen to be the employees, while within the accountability for perfect
truth, it is less clear who the account-receivers actually are. Here implicit
account-receivers appear to be some “general humanity”, i.e. all those humans who
in general appreciate truth (instead of e.g. lies). As such account-receivers
are vague and implicit, it is difficult to resist such an accountability form
as it is challenging to oppose such invisible elements of the accountability. The
accountability for perfect truth thus dominates in the organization. Such a
situation results in conflicts as the real and implicit account-receivers can
be pitted against one another.

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Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 08:54