El Instituto Chr. Michelsen, en colaboración con el Departamento de Administración y Teoría de la Organización de la Universidad de Bergen, realizarán un taller los días 22 y 23 de abril de 2015 para articular potenciales investigaciones en el campo de la rendición de cuentas.

Entre los 4 ejes temáticos que comprenden a las instituciones de rendición de cuentas (entre ellas, Entidades de Fiscalización Superior, Ombudsman o Defensorías del Pueblo, Comisiones de Derechos Humanos, y Agencias Anticorrupción) se encuentran los siguientes: arreglos institucionales y cultura, estandarización internacional y colaboración, responsividad y efectividad, y desafíos de desempeño.

Se reciben abstracts de no más de 300 palabras hasta el 14 de noviembre, que deberán ser enviados –en INGLÉS– a Dr. Sofie Schuette: sofie.schuette@cmi.no

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The thematic focus of the workshop will be a specific set of institutions that can be considered both horizontal and vertical mechanisms of public accountability. These institutions provide, on the one hand, a check on government and open channels for complaints and concerns from the population at large, on the other. This type of accountability institutions is relatively under-researched as compared to the vertical dimension (between the elected and the electors) and the horizontal dimension (between the three branches of government: legislature, executive and judiciary).

We have labelled this intermediary type of institution which serve as checks on governments as the ‘in-betweens’. This institutional type combines vertical and horizontal accountability functions to variable degrees and comprises institutions such as ombud institutions, human rights commissions, anti-corruption agencies, supreme audit institutions and others (e.g. regulators and supervisory bodies). While they are state bodies, the in-betweens do require autonomy from the state to function effectively. Their main function is to provide checks on the exercise of power by state/government institutions, but also to open channels for the public at large to enquire into and to lodge complaints about governmental decisions and practices. They are bridging vehicles between the public and the government and complement other agencies in the private and public sector.

The call for papers covers the four sub-themes related to these in-between accountability institutions:

1. Institutional arrangements and culture

The first theme investigates the institutional position of accountability institutions within the confines of the given political regime. We choose to focus on institutional arrangements for ensuring the independence of the selected accountability institutions. These arrangements concern the relationships of these institutions with the incumbent government. Questions include their legal mandate, their grounding in law (i.e. what types of law by which authority), the terms of tenure, funding and relationship to other organs of state, such as the judiciary. Extra-legal factors are also of high importance, not least the nature of the political regime, the socio-economic development, the degree of democracy and accountability in general and institutional culture. The main research question is hence: what formal and informal preconditions are required for these institutions to function effectively?

2. International standardisation and collaboration

The second theme examines the transnational dimension which acknowledges that accountability institutions do not operate in a vacuum. International standards have been made in the form of certificates, codes of conduct and rules to guide these institutions in their operations. Collaboration is taking place across borders to share information and experiences and these institutions may also be important sources of information for international agencies. We also know that once established in some countries, their design and standards tend to be emulated elsewhere. The main research question is: how does international standardisation and cooperation influence the functioning of national accountability institutions?

3. Responsiveness and effectiveness

The third theme studies the responsiveness and effectiveness of accountability institutions and how they engage with the citizenry. One important function of these institutions is to receive and process complaints from the public at large, but also to be vigilant in exercising checks on state actions or non-actions. Here we presume that the structural conditions for functioning are not by themselves sufficient to guarantee effective functioning; trust and practices embedded in cultures also play a role. Are they proactive or reactive? Are they well-known to the public? What may induce the public to approach them? Empirical research under this stream provides insights into the effectiveness of these institutions through careful case studies. The main research questions in this stream are hence: how responsive and effective are they in addressing public accountability concerns and secondly, are they in a position to decisively affect public policy?

4. Measurement challenges

The fourth theme addresses the measurement challenges in the research of these accountability institutions. We look in particular for theory-testing studies and studies that address the challenges of small ‘n’ and comparability of cases, with a particular view to different contexts (regimes, economic development, and culture) in which these institutions operate. Towards that end, it may be necessary to go beyond formal/legal categories to capture how accountability relations play out in practice. This includes case studies that have successfully addressed these challenges, but also theoretical approaches.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted by 14 November 2014 to Dr Sofie Schuette: sofie.schuette@cmi.no

Please indicate which of the four themes the paper addresses. If selected, complete papers (7000 words) are due for submission by 15 March 2015.

KeynoteProfessor Mark Bovens, University of Utrecht

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