Dissecting multiple accountabilities: A problem of multiple forums or of conflicting demands?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The necessity for public sector actors to manage multiple accountabilities in their work has been linked to a number of problems and failures, yet we lack an understanding of how multiple accountabilities affect the decision-making behavior of civil servants. Here we argue that the main issue is not only the existence of multiple forums as such but the presence of conflicting demands between multiple forums or within a single forum. Drawing on sociopsychological research, we develop hypotheses regarding two types of behavioral strategies (high-effort and low-effort) to cope with accountability pressures. We test this using a realistic vignette experiment on a sample of 270 Dutch regulators. Results show that both the multiplicity of forums and the conflict of demands affect the likelihood that regulators seek help and procrastinate. The main issue is the conflicting demands that have a stronger effect on behavior than forum multiplicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-736
JournalPublic Administration
Volume100
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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