Organizing Transnational Accountability
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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.
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Chapter 8: Rituals of Legitimation: Organizing Accountability in EU Employment Policy

Renita Thedvall


Renita Thedvall INTRODUCTION Concepts such as ‘transparency’, ‘benchmarking’, ‘evaluation’, ‘audit’, ‘best practice’, ‘indicators’ and ‘accountability’ are becoming more and more familiar in the Western world. These linguistic and managerial techniques, once the purview of private organizations, have infiltrated the language and practices of state bureaucracies (Sahlin-Andersson 2000a, p. 1) and European Union institutions (McDonald 2000; Harlow 2002) over the past quarter century. In the context of public organizations, these ideas and practices have been labelled New Public Management (Hood 1991; Stewart and Walsh 1992), and have spread around the Western world in a variety forms, but with roughly the same language (SahlinAndersson 2000b, p. 4). New Public Management is based on the conception that goals must be set and must be evaluated by results, preferably in the form of indicators and statistics. These indicators and statistical diagrams are supposed to render policy processes and outcomes transparent, making it possible to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their decisions. The European Union has recently embraced this trend, as it becomes increasingly important to make member states accountable for such problems as discrimination in the workplace or poor working conditions. Political goals and targets are set for the EU, and member states are held accountable for their (in)abilities to reach these goals through the publications of various EU reports and communications. During the past 15 years, the EU has intensified its creation of such tools as indicators and statistics, designed to make the impact of political decisions measurable. In...

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