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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pitching in Nottingham

I have just returned from a trip to the University of Nottingham where I made some remarks about the study of accountability before a meeting of accountancy professors who specialize in corporate governance and public service accountancy.

I have been spending a good deal of my time over here attempting to build disciplinary bridges among those who study accountability, and I have just launched my "big effort" which is to convene an international colloquium on accountability research at the Institute of Governance at Queen's University of Belfast. That meeting will be held from 20-22 October, and it was obvious to everyone in the room this morning that I was determined to make a "pitch" for participants.

But there was more to my presentation than the "pitch." The point of my Nottingham talk was to highlight the problem we face as accountability scholars. Taking liberties with the well known observation that the US and UK are two countries separated by a common language, I argue that we are scholars "separated by a common subject." In my ongoing search for anything and everything written on the subject, I've found that there is some terrific work on accountability being done in fields like accounting, law, sociology, psychology, ethics, public administration and political science. There is even some really fascinating work being done in computer science where there are projects focused building accountability into software programs for verifying transactions and emulating decision making. The problem is getting those involved in these distinct research streams at least familiar with each other, and (if possible) actually establishing venues where they can share and exchange ideas.

I am not after the all-encompassing definition or grand theory of accountability -- but I am all for creating real and virtual opportunities for folks from different perspectives to have a serious chat about their work. That, in a nutshell, is the major reason for the October meetings, and the programme will be designed accordingly.....

Any ideas from readers of this blog are most welcome. Just leave a comment....
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