The New Regulatory Space

The New Regulatory Space

Reframing Democratic Governance

Frank Vibert

This groundbreaking book analyses changing patterns of governance in modern democratic societies. Frank Vibert discusses how far we should be concerned about such changes and what we should be concerned about. Crucially, Vibert clarifies the status of regulation, revealing how regulation should be viewed, not only as a technique offering specific responses to particular policy problems, but also in its new role as the key mechanism for making adjustments between the different systems of coordination used in contemporary governance.

Chapter 11: Accountability and the integrity of systems

Frank Vibert

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, law and society, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, international politics, public policy, regulation and governance


In recent years the literature on accountability has burgeoned and many different dimensions of the concept have been discussed. This chapter looks at the different domains of authority as connected but distinctive systems. It focuses on their integrity as systems. It thus moves away from much recent discussion that has been in terms of accountability as applied to the compliance of individual actors with their terms of reference rather than to the integrity of the system or domain as a whole. The discussion looks first at the issues raised in going from accountability as applied to an individual actor, institution or act, to a system perspective. Standard frameworks for the analysis of individual acts or actors rely either on what is known as 'principal/agent' relationships where the body or actor being held to account is an agent to a principal (such as a democratic electorate) who holds them to account, or the relationship is analysed in terms of an actor (being held to account) and a forum (holding them to account). However, what is immediately apparent from recent experience is that mechanisms that focus on individual acts and actors may miss the bigger picture of what is happening to the integrity of the system or domain as a whole.

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