Who Needs Accountability?

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Sara Eriksén
Title: Who Needs Accountability?
Conference name: IRIS 24, 24th Information Systems Research Seminar i Scandinavia
Year: 2001
Pagination: 663-76
ISBN: 82-7354072-3
Publisher: Dept. of Information Science, University of Bergen, Norway
City: Ulvik, Norway
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Department of Human Work Science and Media Technology (Institutionen för arbetsvetenskap och medieteknik)
Dept. of Human Work Science and Media Techn., S-372 25 Ronneby
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail: sara.eriksen@bth.se
Language: English
Abstract: During the twenty-some years since ethnographic field studies in the workplace first began to be taken seriously as having possible relevance for the design of information technology, accountability has been one of the recurring concepts in the literature exploring these areas. Like usability and actability, accountability sounds like an important issue but proves a difficult feature to define. Of what exactly is it an attribute? Who defines it? For whom? Under what conditions?
In this paper, I explore and compare a few of the various uses of the concept of accountability that I have come across in ethnomethodological and CSCW literature. In the third section, I tentatively indicate what focusing on accountability, in one or several different interpretations of the concept, might imply for design of IT in some specific cases. These brief and sketchy examples, aiming to be thought-provoking rather than analytically thought-through and articulated, are selected from recent development projects and on-going research work with which I have been involved or come in contact.
Subject: Human Work Science\Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Human Work Science\Participatory Design
Software Engineering\General
Keywords: IT design, accountability, CSCW, Participatory Design
Note: The argument in this paper was later reworked on the basis of comments received at IRIS 24 and became part of the core of a paper by the same author presented at NordiCHI 2002 (see Eriksén, S. (2002), Designing for Accountability.)