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Accountability and ideology: When left looks right and right looks left


  • Tetlock, Philip E.
  • Vieider, Ferdinand M.
  • Patil, Shefali V.
  • Grant, Adam M.


Managers face hard choices between process and outcome systems of accountability in evaluating employees, but little is known about how managers resolve them. Building on the premise that political ideologies serve as uncertainty-reducing heuristics, two studies of working managers show that: (1) conservatives prefer outcome accountability and liberals prefer process accountability in an unspecified policy domain; (2) this split becomes more pronounced in a controversial domain (public schools) in which the foreground value is educational efficiency but reverses direction in a controversial domain (affirmative action) in which the foreground value is demographic equality; (3) managers who discover employees have subverted their preferred system favor tinkering over switching to an alternative system; (4) but bipartisan consensus arises when managers have clear evidence about employee trustworthiness and the tightness of the causal links between employee effort and success. These findings shed light on ideological and contextual factors that shape preferences for accountability systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Tetlock, Philip E. & Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Patil, Shefali V. & Grant, Adam M., 2013. "Accountability and ideology: When left looks right and right looks left," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 22-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:122:y:2013:i:1:p:22-35
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.03.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kausel, Edgar E. & Culbertson, Satoris S. & Leiva, Pedro I. & Slaughter, Jerel E. & Jackson, Alexander T., 2015. "Too arrogant for their own good? Why and when narcissists dismiss advice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 33-50.


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