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By J. Steets

Governments and overseas corporations more and more use public-private partnerships to carry crucial public items. This book presents a brand new version of responsibility which guarantees that those partnerships do not erode public responsibility. It defines concrete responsibility criteria for various forms of partnerships.

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At the same time, partnerships are often created to address accountability problems of the partner organisations. The focus here is less the absolute level of accountability than to whom organisations are accountable. Reformers often demand greater inclusiveness and accountability to various stakeholder groups from government, international organisations and corporations. Partnerships are one avenue for achieving just this. 79 Partnerships thus present challenges to established forms of accountability, yet promise more accountability to new principals.

Two considerations, however, can change this calculus. Firstly, the principal is probably only willing to engage in this game at all or to play it again if she sees a reasonable chance that the agent will pursue P’s interests. 74 Secondly, the agent also has a strong motivation to avoid a situation where he does his best to act in the principal’s interests, but gets sanctioned nevertheless. He can reduce this risk by demanding that the principal clearly articulates her expectations and preferences and by ensuring that the principal receives adequate information about the agent’s behaviour.

40 Without exploring any specific answers, this section sketches the general scope of these questions. 1 Defining the agent In the example used above for defining the core of accountability, an accountability relationship was created by one party entrusting money to another. If the agent that is thus created is an individual, it is obvious who can be held accountable for the correct use of the funds. In modern societies, though, many aspects of our political, economic and social lives are dominated by organisations.

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