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No one is perfect: The limits of transparency and an ethic for 'intelligent' accountability

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  • Roberts, John
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    Abstract

    This paper draws on the work of Butler [Butler, J. (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press] to develop a critique of the operation and adequacy of transparency as a form of accountability. The paper begins with an exploration of accountability as subjection explored through Lacan's account of the social dynamics of recognition, and Freud's account of guilt. This analysis then informs an exploration of what is argued to be our typically ambivalent embrace of transparency as a form of accountability. The final section of the paper investigates the potential for a more 'intelligent' form of accountability, grounded in an ethic of humility and generosity, made possible by a conscious acknowledgement of the ways in which I can never quite know what it is that I am doing.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 8 (November)
    Pages: 957-970

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:34:y:2009:i:8:p:957-970

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    References

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    1. McKernan, John Francis, 2007. "Objectivity in accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 155-180.
    2. Stuart Ogden & Keith W. Glaister & David Marginson, 2006. "Empowerment and Accountability: Evidence from the UK Privatized Water Industry," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 521-555, 05.
    3. David Knights, 2003. "Governing through Teamwork: Reconstituting Subjectivity in a Call Centre," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(7), pages 1587-1619, November.
    4. Gray, Rob, 1992. "Accounting and environmentalism: An exploration of the challenge of gently accounting for accountability, transparency and sustainability," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 399-425, July.
    5. Roberts, John & Sanderson, Paul & Barker, Richard & Hendry, John, 2006. "In the mirror of the market: The disciplinary effects of company/fund manager meetings," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 277-294, April.
    6. Chua, Wai Fong, 1995. "Experts, networks and inscriptions in the fabrication of accounting images: A story of the representation of three public hospitals," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 20(2-3), pages 111-145.
    7. Roberts, John, 1991. "The possibilities of accountability," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 355-368.
    8. Roberts, John & Jones, Megan, 2009. "Accounting for self interest in the credit crisis," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(6-7), pages 856-867, August.
    9. Donald MacKenzie, 2006. "An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262134608, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Enrico Bracci, 2013. "Inter-Organizational Accountability and Budget Cut-Backs," Working Papers 2013152, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
    2. Vassili Joannides & St├ęphane Jaumier, 2011. "Accounterability ou l'accountability par la bande," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00645359, HAL.
    3. Solomon, Jill F. & Solomon, Aris & Joseph, Nathan L. & Norton, Simon D., 2013. "Impression management, myth creation and fabrication in private social and environmental reporting: Insights from Erving Goffman," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 195-213.

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