The concept and practices of accountability enjoy considerable interest today, not least due to the World Development Report WDR 2004 on service delivery, which formulated the ëtriangle of accountabilityí - specifying relations between the poor, service providers, policy makers and politicians. This paper  explores accountability starting from realities faced by the poor across countries and diverse institutional contexts. It is postulated that, even while the WDR does acknowledge the importance of clientelism and the risk of politicisation of policy, there is insufficient recognition ñ especially for the poor and women, but not limited to them- of the power dimensions of accountability, institutionalised inequalities and low claim making powers, access problems and the importance of bribes to get things done. Such issues undermine accountability mechanisms in what may be called ëmoderní or formal institutional settings. The question arises as to whether there are well performing accountability mechanisms in more traditional/ëindigenousí or informal institutions and settings, where people may (still) rely on or build on well established and culturally rooted accountability practices. This paper is an initial exploration and analysis of accountability mechanisms in a sample of 22 ëmoderní, ëindigenous/traditionalí or ëmixedí institutions - and attempts to identify patterns of mechanisms that seem to be effective, and to assess conditions that may be conducive to effective accountability arrangements.

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Akinyinka Akinyoade
Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

de Wit, J., & Akinyoade, A. (2008). Accountability in formal and informal institutions: a cross country analysis. ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 464, pp. 1–35). Retrieved from