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A Heuristic Framework For Accountability Of Governmental Subunits


  • Gary M. Cunningham
  • Jean E. Harris


New public management rhetoric calls for greater accountability of activities of governmental subunits in order to enhance effectiveness. This call focuses on results control as a universal approach that is perceived to bring the benefits of private-sector management to the public sector. While this claim has exploratory merit, a theoretical framework is needed to assess the processes by which accountability leads to effectiveness. This article builds such a framework. Public-sector and private-sector literatures are reviewed and integrated. This review suggests that singular, universal approaches to control are not appropriate nor desirable. Instead, using a systems/configuration approach, which is ideally suited to the complexity of governmental organizations, profiles of four different types of governmental subunits are constructed along with the control approaches that ideally may lead to effective performance in each. This framework is a heuristic device that expands the knowledge and theory of accountability in government organizations and can guide future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary M. Cunningham & Jean E. Harris, 2001. "A Heuristic Framework For Accountability Of Governmental Subunits," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 145-165, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pubmgr:v:3:y:2001:i:2:p:145-165
    DOI: 10.1080/14719030122162

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    1. Cunningham Gary M. & Fagerstrom Arne & Hassel Lars G., 2011. "Accounting For Sustainability: What Next? A Research Agenda," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(special), pages 97-111, July.

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