Redefining accountability as relational responsiveness

Journal of Business Ethics 66 (1):89 - 98 (2006)
Abstract
The way in which accountability is currently employed in business ethics practice is based on a few central assumptions. It is assumed, for instance, that ethical failures result from the deliberate, rational decision-making of moral agents. A second important assumption is that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between the decisions and actions of individuals and the consequences of those decisions. Furthermore, the current approach towards accountability failures relies on the ability on legal sanctions to deter agents from ethical lapses. This paper will argue that these three assumptions do not survive critical interrogation and that our understanding of accountability therefore has to be reconsidered. It will propose that accountability be reconceived as a relational responsiveness towards stakeholders.
Keywords accountability  moral agency  stakeholder theory
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