Re: Responsibility vs accountability LO2878

Jim Campbell (
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 08:12:53 -0600

Replying to LO2806 --

Replying to: Colin Sharp

>Accountability is the reporting part of the responsibility. These
>two concepts have a relationship embodied in the old aphorism that:
>'justice must not only be done - but BE SEEN TO BE DONE'.
>In other words there is a responsibility to do the right thing, and
>being accountable means proving that one has done so to the interested
>This is obviously an area of importance for performance evaluation
>and management ethics.
> Does this help?
>Dr Colin Sharp
>Flinders Institute of Public Policy & Management

I find the use of the term Responsibility misdirected. In workshop
discussions and definition excercises I have found what most people intend
when they use "Responsibility" is more accurately described by "Obligation".
The conversation always is about something you give to someone else. Here
"accountability" and "obligation" have similiar meanings. Obligation or an
accountable is something you can give or assign to another. On the other
hand in this time of need for excellence in leadership I find reverting to
the original composite word responsibility very useful. If the word is
breoken into it's components; response and ability, a very different
understanding results. The ability to respond is something that can be lead
coached or developed in another but definitely not just assigned. The
perspective this approach offers opens the door for understanding a
partnership style relationship between org. leaders and staff and also is a
necessary perspective in building a Learning Organization. I cannot give
the ability to respond to you but can find a way to develop it if the
potential is there.

Jim Campbell                                  e-mail:
Access Internet - via the University of Lethbridge
190 Oxford Rd. West          Phone & Fax:   (403) 381 3774
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"Life-learning: creating new forms, and in turn not diminishing possibilities"