Held to Account: Challenges of Governance from the Local to the Global , Janice Gross Stein, October 21, 2002

University Professor Lecture Series, Isabel Bader Theatre, University of Toronto, Monday, October 21, 2002, 7 pm

These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (daviding@systemicbusiness.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi ).

Welcome by Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science

Janice Gross Stein

Global Knowledge Foundation

175th anniversary of U. of Toronto

[Michael Goldberg, president of the Global Knowledge Foundation]

Janice Gross Stein

[Janice Gross Stein]

Has known the president of the Global Knowledge Foundation since he was 5 years old.

Today's talk may raise more questions.

Large question of accountability in our society.

Roots of the word "accountability"

Where did accountability come from?

In accounting, there's still problems

e.g. school boards in the city of Toronto.

Often confuse accountable with responsible.

Illustration of dilemma: families

As we move beyond the family to the community, and from local to global, the gap between responsibility and accountability gets bigger.

In business, most focus has been on the accuracy of information that firms release.

These narrow focuses of accountability are under criticism.

Members of the corporate community looking at work: Harvard Good Work project.

As accountability has narrowed, a new concept of corporate responsibillity is rising.

Look in voluntary and non-public sectors.

If we add the question of time horizons (similar to the corporate sector).

If we turn to government, it should be easier.

We hear less about responsible government.

Need to get beyond accountability.

Three practical puzzles: What language to we need?

Puzzle 1: How do we deal with error, when when make mistakes?

Second puzzle: How do we protect whistle-blowers?

Third: How do we broaden beyond what we can measure, to what we can't.

What will the next generation of leaders look like?


Good Work project at Harvard?

David Olsen, university professor: Accountants who are creative with Arthur Andersen. Real question is about entitlements. Accountability and responsibility is really only important in terms of entitlements.

Guya: host of anti-apathy, with beer and music. How should we act? As consumers, we can say we want a refund. What is the role of the citizen?

A citizen living in the community. How can we get our politicians to be more responsible? Some feel powerless. We may have more power as citizens. Chretien moving in the right direction.

Relationship between accountability and responsibility. Causal direction from accountability to responsibility. Can we look at the causal direction is the other way? Is this because responsibility systems were not working well?

Michael Maris, history professor, dean of graduate school. An alternative to the mechanistic accountants approach and the moralistic approach. Accountability represents an interest in direct democracy. Recall, transparency. Responsibility represents an older approach to politics, on leaders and hierarchy, leadership as leading by special qualities, i.e. they're the responsible ones. There is an engagement with systems that don't work as well. But question on the nature of democracy.,

Terrence Horvath: former governing council, retired lawyer. Accountability as an objective test, and responsibility as a moral or subjective test. Accountability with fidiciary duty, in contracts and torts. Last two questioners were dealing from a democratic or historical. Responsibility had to do with duty.

What can ordinary slobs do to influence our political leaders? Political polls, which are quantifiable. Is a political leader who uses a poll to say that he's doing what the citizens want responsible? Or is the one that says that he isn't responsible.

The dean, leaving you with a puzzle. Government with a report on university accountability. Deans will answer questions from students, faculty, parents, friends, donors. Give some guidance to whom deans are accountabile and responsible? In addition, do surveys (e.g. Macleans) give us some help on responsibility and accountability?