Organizing Transnational Accountability

Organizing Transnational Accountability

Edited by Magnus Boström and Christina Garsten

This book adds a multi-disciplinary organizational perspective to the theoretical analysis of political accountability and argues for a broadening of the conventional understanding of the concepts of responsibility and accountability.

Chapter 1: Organizing for Accountability

Magnus Boström and Christina Garsten

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, organisation studies, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental sociology


Magnus Boström and Christina Garsten INTENSIFYING PRESSURES FOR ACCOUNTABILITY Accountability is one of the grand catchwords of contemporary politics and organizational life. Nongovernmental organizations, social movements, journalists, policy debaters and engaged citizens report and protest about the misdeeds of powerful organizations and call for ‘greater accountability’. For their part, large organizations including states, transnational corporations (TNCs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) appear more and more willing to speak in favour of accountability. They want to show that they are responsible; that they really have considered the views of the poor, the vulnerable and the damaged; and that they have the best intentions and will strive to avoid unwelcome side effects. Yet, what does such commitment mean in practice? Accountability is a sought-after ideal, yet a fuzzy concept, leading to many definitional struggles: for whom and for what should the actor be accountable? In a transnational political and organizational context, accountability no longer merely concerns relationships between citizens and elected politicians, between elected politicians and public servants, or between corporate owners and management. The concept is widening and the accountability struggles in organizational and political life are intensifying. Social, political, environmental and financial scandals fuel the demand for accountability. The trials surrounding Enron’s corporate scandal testify to the pressure to make organizations accountable for their misdeeds. In Sweden, the recent Skandia trials are a showcase for the need to identify responsible actors and require culprits to answer for the consequences of their misdemeanours. Increasing demands for accountability feed a...

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