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Yet while we are all “enmeshed in an elaborating web of accountability” – it remains elusive (Sinclair, 1995). Merleau-Ponty would argue that when we “don’t have a word for it,” it is not because language is inadequate, but that the thought is not fully formed; it is incomplete (Marcoulatas, 2001). The word “accountability” which began as a spoken word; an utterance which expressed emotional essence to an encounter with the world; has, through time and frequent misuse or deviation, lost track of that original character.

132). We cannot exist without addressing and being addressed by the Other (Butler, 2001, p. 25). Consequently individuals are driven by a need to find approval and status (Frink and Ferris, 1998). Everyone wants to feel good about themselves as well as having others hold a good opinion of them. So to be deemed willing to be held accountable for our actions is one way of achieving this (Douglas, 1994). In Western culture, individuals construct a sense of themselves as accountable (Sinclair, 1995, p.

The first, with which this paper has much agreement, broadly argues that accounting (or the provision of information) is not accountability. This group is more social constructivist in nature and tend towards more psychoanalytic conceptions of accountability in which social actors recognise that their actions impact on others. Work in this arena’s dominant concern is with the adverse impacts of the “McKinsey/managerial/hierarchical” form of accountability on individuals within organisations and consequently on organisational performance.

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