Accountability and Performance Appraisals LO17548

John Cremer (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 11:05:38 -0500

Replying to LO17505, same subject.

Doc Holloway,

You wrote: "Well then, what is the relationship between accountability
and responsibility--and who decides?"

In my simplistic way of looking at things I see responsibility as the
mission or contract that a party takes on--or has forced on them.
Accountability is the reckoning of how well the party accomplished it.

Who decides? That is a rub, isn't it? Ideally it would be by mutual
agreement as in: "I agree to this contract. I agree that my performance
will be evaluated against (performance measures) by (designated person).

In real life, who decides is often not clear. Wealth, power, laws,
public opinion, and even force of arms determine both what the contract is
and who decides.

My experience in the organizational context, both from the inside as a
member and from the outside as a consultant, leads me to believe that the
"who decides" is usually pretty clear. The responsibilities and
performance measures are often not as clear, and the execution of the
evaluation process is likely to be shoddy.

Looking at the issue of grades in this context can lead to some
interesting excursions. If you accept the premise that a boss hiring an
employee is entitled to hold that employee accountable/responsible, what
does that say for an institution of higher learning where the students
presumably pay the faculty members through the institution? Wouldn't it
make sense for the students to grade the faculty or the institution rather
than the other way around?

"Is there some reason for this--or is that just the way it be's?"
Lieutenant General William J. Livsey, spoken
to his VII Army Corps Staff in Stuttgart, GE, 1982.

John Cremer


John Cremer <>

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