Carnegie PhD Scholar awarded Robertson Medal 2023-24
Project Title: Hybrid accountability: a value co-creation approach
As transparency is given good press in public sector management research, no one contests the need for accountability (Sinclair, 1995) in publicly funded organisations and services, yet there is significant disagreement over ways to define it, and this could be put down to its various forms. There are overlapping and conflicting forms of accountability (‘the problem of many eyes’ – Bovens, 2009) as well as varying emphasis on some over others, depending on the governance paradigm of the hour. Often, accountees are seen as ‘managing meanings’ (Sinclair, 1995) associated with various accountability types and with the various accountors looking into service outcomes at any given times. In this sense, public accountability is a ‘chameleon’ (idem.) which does not push one to commit to one type of accountability but enables (or determines) them to navigate the confusing and inherently contradictory realm of accountability in public sector settings. This contradictory state of things is conceptually characterised by ‘hybridity’ (e.g., Christensen & Laegreid, 2011, Noordegraaf 2007).
This research project aims to stretch our understanding of public accountability by crystallising, operationalising and measuring the concept of ‘hybrid accountability’. This is a threshold concept without which knowledge of public accountability cannot advance. Indeed, public services are designed and provided through increasingly complex organisational configurations which stretch beyond the realm of the public sector. Therefore, the traditional notion on public accountability, resting primarily on political accountability, no longer applies to public services. But it is, however, important to establish which accountability framework applies to public sector professionals implicated in contemporary public service provision. The answer is entailed in this ‘hybrid accountability’ concept we are crystallising, first through one to one in-depth interviews and, based on that, building survey scales which will allow us to go from definition to measurement.
Awarded: Research Incentive Grant
Field: Management & Business Studies
University: University of Glasgow