Book | 2007

Global Accountabilities: Participation, Pluralism, and Public Ethics

by Alnoor Ebrahim and Edward Weisband


This edited volume contributes analytical depth to the diverse debates on accountability in modern organizations. It explores the nature, forms and impacts of accountability efforts in civil society organizations, public and inter-governmental agencies, and private corporations. Contributors draw from a range of disciplines, including political science, public administration, civil society studies, anthropology, organizational sociology, business, and social and critical theory. In so doing, they demonstrate the inadequacy of modern rationalist prescriptions for establishing accountability standards and for monitoring them. The authors show how accountability frameworks attached to principal-agent logics and applied universally across cultures typically fail to achieve their objectives. Accountability is a socially constructed means of control used by the weak as well as the powerful. The chapters in this volume provide evidence of its highly contested and power-laden nature. By relying on a diverse range of empirical experience and case studies—from the local to the global, and from wealthy industrialized countries of the "North" to poorer nations of the "South"—this book underscores the importance of grounding accountability procedures and standards in the divergent cultural, social, and political settings in which they operate. It offers a critique of universalizing and technocratic notions of accountability, thus providing a "second-generation" perspective on accountability that is interpretive and culturally embedded.

Keywords: Ethics; Globalized Firms and Management; Corporate Accountability; Business and Government Relations;


Ebrahim, Alnoor, and Edward Weisband. Global Accountabilities: Participation, Pluralism, and Public Ethics. U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2007.