Accountability of public organisations
: An evaluation of the impact of Information, organisational structures and markets.

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    A number of reforms described as the New Public Management (NPM) have been introduced in the UK. Key elements of this are the introduction of markets, an increase in the production of performance information and changes to organisational structures. This research evaluates the impact of these reforms
    on accountability. In order to do this a model of effective accountability is developed from the existing literature. The criteria of effective accountability are the provision of information by the steward, clarity of assignment of responsibilities, the ability of the principal to control the steward and the ability
    of the principal to apply rewards or impose sanctions

    An overview of the NPM and accountability is provided in the first paper. Three papers examine the impact of increased performance information on accountability, through an analysis of documents and plans. The conclusion is that the information provided does not meet the needs of the relevant stakeholders. Three further papers assess the impact of changes in organisational structure and find that clarity and democratic accountability are marginally enhanced. The final paper analyses the impact of a consumer approach to accountability in education. It concludes that resistance to this, from officials and politicians, diluted the possible benefits of increased clarity and sanctions for parents.

    The eight pieces of research show that although accountability overall has not been significantly enhanced, the impact of reforms has varied between the different elements of effective accountability. The giving of an account and clarity of account have been strengthened by the reforms, but there is more
    limited evidence on the other two criteria. These latter two areas in particular are important issues for further research on accountability.

    This research has contributed significantly to our understanding of the impact of reforms on accountability. This has been achieved through original empirical research as well as theoretical developments concerning the importance of information and the quality of data required by different stakeholders.
    Date of AwardMar 2004
    Original languageEnglish


    • Public administration
    • Moral and ethical aspects
    • Great Britain
    • Administrative responsibility

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