Examine the Characteristics of American Administrative Accountability
One of the simplest ways to unravel the mystery of accountability for public administrators is to trace back to the root sources; and examine how it unfolds across varying levels to affect governmental decision-making.
The democratic government only succeeds by fair play and the public administrators are one of key players of this fair play. These administrators take decisions based upon actions which are right and valuable for community and the country rather than just decision making.
When trying to serve the aim of accumulation of knowledge, efforts at combining results from such studies to create more general statements about either the causes of, or the effects of one particular subtype of accountability seem to be inherently implausible, or at least very much more difficult. A path dependency argument, for example, negates the independent effect of individual factors as well as the causal ontology of multiple conjunctural causation insofar as the latter approach models factors identified with a particular outcome as current and historically independent (Pierson, 2000). Therefore, even if studies are carried out on the same subtype of accountability but are based on different causal ontologies, the results will again not be a sound basis for comparative generalizations. Finally, empirical reality also has a way of making things complicated. In most societies and political systems, various accountability relationships have been established at various points in time with the effect that even single institutions have multiple layers of various types of accountability.
Hence, accountability studies often focus on normative issues, on the assessment of the actual and active behaviour of public agents. In the latter case, accountability is used in a narrower, descriptive sense. It is seen as an institutional relation or arrangement in which an actor can be held to account by a forum.
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George, Alexander, and Andrew Bennett (2005) ‘Case Studies and Theory Development’, Chapter 1 in Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press:1-36.
Pierson, Paul (2000) ‘Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics’, American Political Science Review 84(2): 251-267.