Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

What’s wrong with the principal-agent model?

ECB President Mario Draghi appears before a European Parliament committee, 2014

We all agree that accountability of public officials is a good thing, but our understanding of how accountability works could stand improvement.  In the current issue ofGovernanceMadalina Busuioc and Martin Lodge challenge the “hegemonic framework” for talking about accountability, the principal-agent model.  We persist in using this model, Busuioc and Lodge argue, even though it does not square with empirical evidence of how accountability-related activities actually work.  They propose an alternate model, a “reputation-based approach” to accountability, that provides a better explanation of behavior.  “Accountability is not about reducing information asymmetries, moral duties, containing agency losses, or ensuring that agents stay committed to the original terms of their mandates. Accountability is about sustaining one’s own reputation vis-à-vis different audiences.”  Read the article.

Written by Governance

May 6, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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