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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Accountability in regulation will never reach a state of ‘perfection’ and stability, but will remain, given competing values and shifting priorities, in a state of continued tension and fluidity. In other words, debates require transparency regarding the very different ideas concerning the appropriate means and ends of accountability. This article develops this argument in three steps. First, it considers the background to contemporary debates surrounding accountability, pointing to traditional concerns as well as to a change in context captured by discussions about ‘polycentric’ or ‘decentred’ regulation. Second, this article points to key components of any regulatory regime over which demands of accountability are commonly asserted, and to four ways of considering institutional design and accountability. Third, and finally, this article suggests that debates on whether the rise of the regulatory state has led to a decline or rise of accountability and transparency are misplaced.

Keywords: accountability, regulation, perfection, stability, regulatory regime

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