"‘Accountability’ is used as a synonym for many loosely defined political desiderata, such as good governance, transparency, equity, democracy, efficiency, responsiveness, responsibility, and integrity"

  • Virtue = normative
  • Mechanism = institutional

Accountability: "an institutional relation or arrangement in which an actor can be held to account by a forum. Here, the locus of accountability studies is not the behaviour of public agents, but the way in which these institutional arrangements operate".

Bovens, Mark. “Two Concepts of Accountability: Accountability as a Virtue and as a Mechanism.” West European Politics 33, no. 5 (2010): 946–67.

In application to more-than-human communities this will mean some deliberations with nonhuman beings, cf. rivers as persons, Earth Jurisprudence, animal rights, etc.

"Accountability as a relationship involves one individual or agency being held to answer for performance expected by some significant "other".

Romzek, Barbara S., and Melvin J. Dubnick. “Accountability.” In Defining Public Administration: Selections from the International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration, edited by Jay M. Shafritz, 382–95. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000.

Cory Doctorow: Platform capitalism and the curse of "enshittification" - Future Tense podcast

Types of Accountability

Social Environmental Algorithmic

Link to Decision Making, decision science, Measurement


  • Increased level of reporting does not lead to increased accountability.
  • Accountability is limited by what is disclosed, and what is disclosed is limited by the extant accounting system (accounting-based accountability).
  • A system that has been explicitly designed to meet the needs of financial capital providers

"The accountability system requirements should reflect the salient evaluation criteria of the interested constituencies."

In the case of more-than-human communities, especially in the context of novel ecologies, it is not clear what that should be.

'Critical Dialogic accountability' - how to extend this to sensorially, behaviourally, cognitively, bodily different agents?

Critical dialogic accountability as a way to conceptualize accountability systems in a pluralistic society characterized by multiple, and often conflicting, interests.

Dillard, Jesse, and Eija Vinnari. “Critical Dialogical Accountability: From Accounting-Based Accountability to Accountability-Based Accounting.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting 62 (2019): 16–38.

To extend this, accountability should be grounded in the communities it serves. In our case in more-than-human communities. Anything else is exclusion, disenfranchisement and, therefore, injustice, violence and harm.

Scobie, Matthew, Bill Lee, and Stewart Smyth. “Grounded Accountability and Indigenous Self-Determination.” Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2020, 102198.


"Accountability mechanisms of collaborative governance: (a) accountability relationships shift from bilateral to multilateral; (b) horizontal as well as vertical accountability relationships are involved; (c) not only formal standards but also informal norms are used; and (d) accountability challenges move from control/audit issues to trust building issues."

Lee, Seulki, and Sonia M. Ospina. “A Framework for Assessing Accountability in Collaborative Governance: A Process-Based Approach.” Perspectives on Public Management and Governance 5, no. 1 (2022): 63–75.


"Moral reasoning has a significant positive effect on environmental accountability"

Generational accountability: short-sighted and local framing results in the lack of ecological accountability to future generations.

Call of the Wild: Generational Accountability of the Global Commons by Paul J. M. Klumpes :: SSRN

On ecological democracy as the context:

Eckersley, Robyn. “Ecological Democracy and the Rise and Decline of Liberal Democracy: Looking Back, Looking Forward.” Environmental Politics 29, no. 2 (2020): 214–34.

Representation of, and accountability to, neglected environmental communities.

"Representing those who cannot represent themselves (such as nonhuman species and communities or future generations) is by no-means straightforward since it breaks the traditional democratic nexus between authorisation by and accountability to citizens (although abandoning such efforts would leave them unrepresented)."


Wieringa, Maranke. “What to Account for When Accounting for Algorithms: A Systematic Literature Review on Algorithmic Accountability.” In Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, edited by Mireille Hildebrandt and Carlos Castillo, 1–18. FAT* ’20. New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 2020.

The context here is the need for deliberative spaces for innovative technology, including AI. Our point here is that such spaces cannot be limited to humans only.

Buhmann, Alexander, and Christian Fieseler. “Towards a Deliberative Framework for Responsible Innovation in Artificial Intelligence.” Technology in Society 64 (2021): 101475.

Metcalf, Jacob, Emanuel Moss, Elizabeth Anne Watkins, Ranjit Singh, and Madeleine Clare Elish. ‘Algorithmic Impact Assessments and Accountability: The Co-Construction of Impacts’. In Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, 735–46. FAccT ’21. New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 2021.


De Villiers, Charl, Pei-Chi Kelly Hsiao, and Warren Maroun, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Integrated Reporting. New York: Routledge, 2020.

Shows benefits of accountability as an influence on human behaviour in administration:

Aleksovska, Marija, Thomas Schillemans, and Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen. “Lessons from Five Decades of Experimental and Behavioral Research on Accountability: A Systematic Literature Review.” Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 2, no. 2 (2019).