The in different contexts. Much of the

The concept of accountability exists in many forms, each
captures dimensions of meaning approached in different contexts. Much of the
academic literature on accountability suggest various interpretations and
address different dilemma and crises which makes accountability remains elusive
(Boven, 2010). For this literature review, I will be focusing on the perception
of being accountable relatable to the case analysis of Wells Fargo. The topics
that will be discussed includes relationship between accountability and ethics,
accountability as a mechanism and how it affects performance.

(2010) in his study of accountability as a mechanism emphasise the obligation
of an actor to explain and justify his or her conduct to a forum. This
relationship between an actor and a forum is closely related to the principal
and agent concept. In relation to the concept, Bovens introduced three stages
which forms the crucial element of accountability. First, the actor must have
self-respect and feel obligated to notify the forum of his or her actions by explaining
how the tasks are performed and proper procedures taken in doing them. In an
event where there are failures, actors are expected in providing explanations
and justifications. Bovens also raised question as to whom actor should render
the account to. This provides guidance to actors on types of forum they are
required to render account. For instance, public institutions are required to
inform to various forums including stakeholders and the public. Nature of the
obligations is also one of the important aspects. This includes hierarchical
relationship in which employees are obliged to answer the orders of those in
higher ranks, and also a contractual agreement. Secondly, it should be possible
for the forum to engage in questioning about the details of information
provided by the actor to seek relevance of the conduct, which implies that
‘accountability’ is also associated with ‘answerability’. The third stage he
proposed is the power of the forum to give a decision concerning the actor’s
conduct. The forum will determine whether to approve or reject accounts of the
actor. Where a negative judgement is involved, Bovens (2010) suggest that the
‘possibility of sanctions’ should be added to the element of accountability as
a mechanism because it ‘makes the difference between the non-committal
provision of information and being held to account’.

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relationship between accountability and ethics was discussed by Dubnick (2003)
where he classified accountability into four distinctive features which are
answerability, blameworthiness, liability and attributability.
Accountability-as-answerability described role-specific response expected from
actors based on their position in the organisation. The ethical choice linked
to this accountability type rely on external signals, where consequences of
one’s action is the main concern. Next, accountability-as-blameworthiness focus
on one’s status. A person who is in a position of power and influence in an
organisation, particularly for a specific role such as the Chief Executive
Officer, is held accountable for every action of the company. Hence,
establishment of credibility, be it individual or organisation is pivotal for
blame avoidance. In contrast, accountability-as-liability posits law as an
effective way in establishing control of one’s actions. Here, accountability is
focus on actor who directly did the act instead of his status or role.
Therefore, an ethical approach is for actors to engage in a reasoning process
which considers legal standards. Accountability-as-attributability on the other
hand associate between one’s personal and professional lives, which implies
that behaviour in an individual’s private life will be reflected in his or her
working life.


and Lee (2010) focused their argument on how accountability has impact on work
performance. The demand for accountability in meeting expectations of multiple
stakeholders is often conflicted with the struggle to balance work performance.
Two models are introduced which are perceived high workload and job tension
which affect one’s performance as a result of accountability requirements.
Evidence from the research conducted shows that compliance accountability has
negative impacts on performance as it increases employees’ job tension and
perceived workload. This is due to the accountability nature of compliance
where actors are bound to follow contractual obligations. This lead them to
generate sizeable paperwork and other required documents that increase
perceived workload. Consequently, significant positive relationship between
high workload and job tension lead to reduced work performance. This in turn
will affect employees’ motivation in providing an efficient service. In
contrast, De Lancer Julnes (2006) believed that when accountability act as a tool
to measure performance, it may reflect fear expressed by individual who is
being held accountable, when it actually should serve the purpose of improving
service delivery. As a result, individuals tend to purposely change their
behaviour according to the areas of appraisal to meet the performance
threshold. This might pose risk to an organization as employees might develop
misbehaviour in achieving desirable outcomes and abandon company’s interest.


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