Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Accountability


Quick Summary of Accountability

Accountability is the obligation to give an account. For limited companies, it’s assumed that the company directors are accountable to its shareholders and that this responsibility is discharged, in part, by the directors’ provision of an annual report and accounts.

In any accountability relationship, there will always be at least one principal and at least one agent.

What is the dictionary definition of Accountability?

Dictionary Definition

  1. The state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account; accountableness; responsible for; answerable for.
  2. military The obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or another person for keeping an accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping.

Full Definition of Accountability

Accountability is an entity’s obligation to be accountable for its actions. Ideally, accountability also entails reporting one’s actions to stakeholders on all material issues on a reasonable basis. The concept can also imply that there will be consequences if an entity fails to meet its obligations.

A company’s managers must be held accountable for the performance of its operations. This means that if the owners are dissatisfied with the organization’s performance, they can replace the managers.

Synonyms For Accountability

responsibility, liability, accountable, responsible, responsibilities

Accountability FAQ's

What is Accountability?

Accountability is the act of being held responsible for the results obtained after performing a given activity. It is a situation where what is being delivered is reviewed and evaluated.

In a business context, accountability is essential to keep work relationships transparent and productive. It basically means that an employee’s activities should be reviewed from time to time to provide some feedback to him, so he can work more effectively. Accountability also aims to avoid negligence and wrongdoings in the workplace. Employees should be held accountable for what they do, to the extent that they were conscious of what they were doing.

An employee’s accountability is closely related to their work duties. An employee can be held accountable for anything they do within the parameters of what they were hired for.

That means a company can’t hold an individual accountable for doing something they were not supposed to be doing. Accountability becomes more important for senior management staff since the impact of their decisions is higher. This means that top executive activities should be more thoroughly reviewed in order to avoid misconduct and undesired consequences from wrong decisions.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Accountability. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
May 20, 2024
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Accountability. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: May 20, 2024).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Accountability. Retrieved May 20, 2024
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Accountability are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 13th April, 2022 | 0 Views.