Doing the Right Thing in the Workplace: Responsibility in the Face of Accountability

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Changing trends and the nature of the work force dictate increased personal responsibility by employees and expanded use of self-management practices. Nevertheless, organizations also feel the need to maintain external control. We propose a progressive view of accountability theory which can resolve the dilemma of how internal and external control can effectively coexist. Success of accountability forces is determined primarily by the relationship between the principal (party to whom one is accountable) and the agent (employee). The agent’s felt responsibility is enhanced to the extent that accountability leads to the structuring of expectations, the agent’s perceptions of the task or activity as significant, and the agent’s perception of control over the situation. Propositions that may be used to guide future research are offered throughout the article.


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Dose, J.J. & Klimoski, R.J. Employ Respons Rights J (1995) 8: 35. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02621254