Negotiating Accountability within International Contexts: The Role of Bounded Voice

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This article suggests that the current preoccupation with increasing organizational accountability with local stakeholders introduces a tyranny of accountability. Drawing upon qualitative data collected from an international nongovernmental organization, this study introduces the concept of "bounded voice" as a tactic for managing competing demands for accountability. Bounded voice describes a dynamic organizational process in which opportunities for voice are strategically and provisionally limited to particular forums. In addition to highlighting the potential of bounded voice for empowerment efforts, the paper illustrates: (1) how problems related to voice and accountability are magnified within globalized contexts requiring governance from afar, and (2) how the ambiguity of the grassroots complicates the process of inventing and monitoring modes of accountability.

Keywords: Accountability; Empowerment; Nongovernmental Organizations; Tension; Voice

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2007

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