Accountability vs. Responsibility

By Jaxson

  • Accountability

    In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

    In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of “being called to account for one’s actions”. It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”. Accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in other words, an absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

    Accountability is an element of a RACI to indicate who is ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible.

    There are various reasons (legitimate or excuses) why accountability fails.

  • Accountability (noun)

    The state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account; accountableness; responsible for; answerable for.

  • Accountability (noun)

    The obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping.

  • Responsibility (noun)

    The state of being responsible, accountable, or answerable.

    “Responsibility is a heavy burden.”

  • Responsibility (noun)

    A duty, obligation or liability for which someone is held accountable.

    “Why didn’t you clean the house? That was your responsibility!”

    “The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world – Harry S. Truman”

  • Responsibility (noun)

    The obligation to carry forward an assigned task to a successful conclusion. With responsibility goes authority to direct and take the necessary action to ensure success.

  • Responsibility (noun)

    The obligation for the proper custody, care, and safekeeping of property or funds entrusted to the possession or supervision of an individual.

  • Accountability (noun)

    the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility

    “lack of accountability has corroded public respect for business and political leaders”

Oxford Dictionary

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