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The Impact of Accountability in Government and Business

In both the government and business spheres, accountability is a word that is used often. Many times it is directed as a way of critique of the action or inaction of others. It is not often that someone uses the word accountability directed toward themselves. That is unfortunate because self-accountability can change the culture of a business or governmental agency around for the better. Here are a few ways that accountability, or the lack of it, impacts the areas of government and business.


Excuses and Complaints

One obstacle to accountability is the use of excuses for not acting ethically or responsibly. When a leader in business or government hides behind excuses and complaints as a reason for poor judgement or lack of ethics, a part of their leadership is forfeited away. The excuses and complaints are often about factors peripherally related to the situation, but do not completely address it.

Complaining and making excuses for behavior or decisions not in the best interests of the corporation or citizens is unacceptable. A commitment one makes to be accountable must be honored, and before you can expect others to be accountable for their actions, you must model accountability yourself.


When an outcome of a negotiation or project is not the desired one, some professionals will resort to blaming others for things that they should have been responsible for. This affects the behavior of others in the organization because they will do anything to prevent being the object of blame by a manager that is famous for finding the fault in others when things go wrong.

There are many situations in business or government where a whole company or institution is complicit in a lack of accountability with disastrous results. USC’s Gould School of Law notes that Credit Suisse made illegal transactions on behalf of sanctioned customers and forfeited 536 million dollars. Get more information about USC’s llm masters program and the impact of white collar crime when corporations are not held accountable for their actions.


Accountability in the public administration sphere has as many definitions as there are people in public administration. When a term that is used by many is poorly defined, there is a lack of a standard for people to measure up against. This ambiguity means that there is a challenge to develop a common expectation of accountability.


There is a move by public administration professional groups to develop a common definition of accountability as it applies to governments and governance. USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy notes that the field of international public administration has a powerful role in developing best practices for governments around the world. Click here to learn more about USC’s online mpa program.

Once there is a shared definition of accountability in a company or a government, more individuals will find personal courage to take ownership of their personal role in maintaining accountability. Then a culture of accountability can begin to grow and become part of the ethos of the organization. The result will be increased transparency and productivity of any future endeavors.

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