Constructing accountability: network governance and managerial agency

Newman, Janet (2005). Constructing accountability: network governance and managerial agency. Public Policy and Administration, 19(4) pp. 17–33.



This article explores accountability as a socially constructed and contested concept. The increasing significance of network governance, in which responsibility for policy making and delivery is shared across organisational boundaries, renders traditional concepts of accountability problematic. New regulatory mechanisms are being introduced in an attempt to hold actors to account; but at the same time, the article argues, it is important to trace how actors themselves are constructing and reworking practical concepts of accountability to guide their everyday decision-making. The article draws on data from group discussions and interviews with public service managers in the UK to explore constructions of accountability in the ambiguous terrain of network governance, and highlights some of the fault lines emerging across this complex field of power.

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