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Accountability Myopia: Losing Sight of Organizational Learning

This article challenges a normative assumption about accountability in organizations: that more accountability is necessarily better. More specifically, it examines two forms of "myopia" that characterize conceptions of accountability among service-oriented non-profit organizations: (a) accountability as a set of unconnected binary relationships rather than as a system of relations and (b) accountability as short-term and rule-following behavior rather than as a means to longer-term social change. The article explores the effects of these myopias on a central mechanism of accountability in organizations—evaluation—and proposes a broader view of accountability that includes organizational learning. Future directions for research and practice are elaborated.

Author: Ebrahim, Alnoor
Published Date: March, 2005