Reciprocal Accountability Theory

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In Nov 1979, Michael Borrero, Pricilla Martina and Gretchen Bubelman Borrero were published a book named “Toward A Theory of Accountability”. In this book, attention has been devoted to the social work literature to the notion of accountability and the reciprocal accountability theory. The focus of this literature has centered around three themes:

  • that the profession has not been accountable;
  • that the profession needs to be more accountable; and
  • some suggestions on how the profession can be more accountable.

Reciprocal Accountability Theory

A current problem with the accountability literature is that the concept of accountability is poorly and too loosely defined. In reciprocal accountability theory, we define accountability as a statement of clear intent by the service provider (agency, worker etc.) and recipient of the intended services (clients system) – and evaluation of the effectiveness and/or efficiency of the intent of both parties. This definition provides a reciprocal process of evaluation between client system and the service provider. Thus, to be accountable in this formulation depends upon a clear statement of intent by the service provider and client system and the evaluation of this intent. In brief form, this reciprocal formulation would be stated:

A = f{Ip + Ic + E}

Ip = Intent of the Service Providers (Ip)
Ic = Intent of the Service Recipients (Ic)
E = Evaluation

Intent of the Service Providers (Ip):

In reciprocal accountability theory, the intent of the service providers (Ip) is comprised of a clear statement of goals, objectives, resource allocation and time. The service provider can be the agency, staff member, funding source; whomever, who attempts to clearly state what they can do; how they can do it; with what resources; and within what time period.

Goals of Ip:

Goals are statements of ideal ends to achieve if everything went according to plan or if all things were equal. Being an ideal end, goals are seldom, if ever, achieved.

Objectives of Ip:

Objectives are specific steps taken which will lead to the goal(s). They are micro activities which, when added together, would approximate the goal. “Objectives derive logically from the goal and specify the actual impact” 4 U to be made in the process of reaching the goal(s). Consequently, evaluation of objectives is a valuable activity in monitoring how closely goal(s) are being achieved.

Resource Collection of Ip:

Resource collection is the supply of money, personnel, motivation, communication, workers, commitment, etc., needed or used to reach objectives and subsequently the goal(s). Resource allocation is the input needed to reach a desired objective; it includes tangible and intangible inputs.

Time of Ip:

Time is the period believed necessary to accomplish the stated goals and objectives. Time is dependent upon the goals and objectives selected, and resource allocations to be utilized. That is, the broader the goals, the greater the number of objectives, the greater the number of resource allocations required and the greater the time needed to reach the desired results.

The intent of the Service Recipients (Ic):

In reciprocal accountability theory, the intent of the recipient of service (Ic) client system, consumer of services is also a clear statement of goals, objectives, resource allocation and time. The recipient of service can be the agency or staff member, but it is most usually the consumer of services or the client system. Here the recipients of service must clearly state what they want to be done; and what resources they are willing to invest, e.g., money, self-exploration, and within what time period. The same definition of the intent of the service provider that applied to the service provider, equally apply to the service recipient. Such as:-

  • Goals of Ic
  • Objectives of Ic
  • Resource of Ic
  • Allocation of Ic and
  • Time of Ic

Evaluation (E):

In reciprocal accountability theory, evaluation (E) is the measurement of effort, effectiveness and/or efficiency of the intent of the service provider and service recipient.

Effort of Evaluation:

Effort refers to the assessment of program inputs, e.g., activity, money, staff, time and commitment necessary. The effort is not a measurement of outcome, it merely measures the input of activity.

Effectiveness of Evaluation:

Effectiveness is a measurement of the degree to which objectives and goals have been reached in a given time or stage of program planning or program implementation.

Efficiency of Evaluation:

Efficiency is a measurement of the ratio between effort and effectiveness. It is the means by which to accomplish specific goals and objectives with the minimum use of resources, e.g., time, money, workers, energy, etc.

Reciprocal Accountability Theory

Reciprocal Accountability Theory

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