By J. Steets
Governments and foreign businesses more and more use public-private partnerships to bring 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 sorts of partnerships.
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To be able to hold the agent accountable for doing so, the principals need sufficient information about the agent’s behaviour. They also need to maintain some leverage over the agent, that is, the ability to impose positive or negative sanctions. In a working accountability relationship, the principal’s ability to impose sanctions and the agent’s anticipation of these sanctions are sufficient to control the agent’s behaviour. From the perspective of the principal, then, accountability is a mechanism to ensure that the agent does not abuse his authority and acts in the best interest of the principal.
This can put corporations in a strong position when they lobby for changes in national rule systems. Formal principals: The next level of accountability is that defined by contracts or other means of formal delegation. In these cases, contracts, statutes or briefs establish who transfers what authority to whom. Thus they clearly define the identity of both principal and agent, as well as the obligations of the agent and sanctions that apply in case of non-compliance. As a result, formal accountability relationships tend to be uncontested in principle.
Firstly, institutional structures can be changed to give specific principals access to new kinds of sanctions. This can mean the creation of entities organising collective action to increase the sanctioning potential, such as trade unions or NGOs giving voice to marginalised groups. 72 The latter process is often an attempt to change available sanctioning mechanisms from those that work crudely and ex-post facto like protests and violence to more differentiated ones that are better suited to creating proactive or preventive accountability such as elections or participation in decision-making processes.