Theorizing and explaining voluntary accountability

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Public organizations are not only subject to statutory obligations to give account, but they also commit themselves voluntarily to additional accountability practices. What motivates the organizations to do so? After all, such practices are costly to the organizations in a number of ways. This study argues that public organizations opt for voluntary accountability for two main reasons: they regard it as an appropriate practice and they respond to perceived legislative threats. Building on these explanations, hypotheses are formulated on the variation in the degree to which organizations voluntarily render account. These hypotheses are tested using new data on voluntary accountability of 103 independent agencies in the Netherlands. The study finds that more voluntary account is rendered by agencies which deal with more salient policy issues, by agencies which depend on public funds, and by agencies with more staff. Agencies without legal personality render less voluntary account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-581
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number3
Early online date24 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • accountability
  • agencies
  • independence


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