Accountability and Hybridity: Understanding Mixed Accountability Regimes under the New Forms of Welf

A call for papers for a symposium in Public Administration

Guest Editors

Avishai Benish, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Paola Mattei, University of Oxford

Deadline for paper submission: December 31st, 2017

Deadline for workshop abstract submission: March 27th, 2017

Symposium Themes

In recent decades, we have witnessed the rise of the regulatory state in social welfare (Haber, 2015; Levi-Faur, 2014). With the reforms of privatization and marketization, the welfare state has shifted markedly away from the state centred model of the provider (or positive) welfare state towards a new model, often termed ‘New Public Management’, in which choice, competition, and a welfare mix are occupying a growing share in the delivery and management of social policies (Ebbinghaus, 2011), presumably to make them more cost-effective, flexible and responsive to users’ preferences (Le Grand 2009; Mattei 2009; Gilbert 2005). The introduction of contracting-out, quasi-markets and choice in schools, health care and social welfare services, along with performance management based on outputs and results, has challenged the conventional assumptions and doctrines of hierarchical accountability structures. While traditional concerns regarding who is accountable, to whom, and how, remain firmly established in the public administration scholarship, there is an ongoing scholarly debate on whether these reforms have increased or eroded accountability and citizens’ social rights, particularly in times of austerity.

However, these ‘accountability deficit’ debates offer an insufficient framework for analysing current institutional accountability arrangements, which are increasingly defined by heightened complexity and increasing mixing and layering of various accountability systems (Benish and Levi-Faur 2012; Gilad 2008; Lodge and Stirton, 2010). The new structures of service delivery offer a range of ‘new’ market and private sector managerial types of accountability, while ‘old’ political, legal and professional mechanisms often remain in place. This hybridization of accountability regimes creates new realities for public administration (Considine 2002), posing significant challenges in understanding the new “grammar” of institutional design (Mashaw 2006), as such forms of accountability are difficult to locate and hard to characterize within clear analytical categories (Scott 2000). At times, they reinforce each other, but at other times, they create competing accountability relations and values (Hood, 2000). Public action is now conducted in a complex environment in which multiple actors – both public and private – operate within an increasingly overlapping, fluid and at times conflicting accountability regimes, each with its own concerns, powers, procedures, and institutional logic (Benish and Maron 2016; Brodkin 2012; Halliday and Scott 2010).

This symposium aims to unpack the analytical concept of hybrid accountability and the remixing of accountability tools within the changed context of “polycentric” regulatory regimes, where the state is not the only actor (Black, 2008). While scholars have started to refine existing typologies, adding new types of accountability, and developing new taxonomies that would reflect the diversity of accountability distinctions (e.g., Byrkjeflot, Christensen & Lægreid 2014; Mashaw 2006; Scott 2000, 2006; Stirton and Lodge 2001; Mulgan 2000, 2003), there is still much to learn about the multiplicity of hybrid accountability arrangements, their dynamics, and their implications for social policy design and administration and on the relationship between the state and the citizen. We therefore call for contributions on the hybridity of accountability in welfare governance, including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Changing patterns and typologies of hybrid accountability regimes.

  • The political and administrative dynamics of the emergence of hybrid accountability regimes and their development over time, including the motives, values, institutional interests and power relations that shape these arrangements.

  • The interplay between different accountability tools, their synergies, tensions, trade-offs and unintended consequences.

  • The implications of the hybridization of accountability on the design, administration and outcomes of welfare governance from the perspectives of policy makers, street-level workers and service users.

We invite theoretical and empirical analyses focused on the question of hybridity of accountability mechanisms, across time, countries, or welfare administrative services. For the purpose of this Symposium, we define the realm of welfare governance broadly to include not only papers on traditional social policy areas, such as health, education, employment, social care, housing, social security and personal social services, but also papers that use the framework of hybridity and accountability in understanding the transformation in related domains, such as public utilities.


To assist with preparation of articles for the Symposium, we will hold a workshop for scholars submitting papers for consideration. The workshop will be held at the University of Oxford on October 20-21, 2017. Limited funding might be available for paper presenters. Attendance at the workshop is optionalfor those wishing to make a submission, but it will provide a good opportunity for workshop papers to receive feedback prior to submission to Public Administration. In any case, the regular review process of Public Administration will apply.

The deadline for workshop abstract submission is March 27th, 2017.

Abstracts of up to 500 words for the workshop should be sent to and

Paper submission:

The deadline for paper submission is December 31st, 2017.

All papers need to be submitted directly through Public Administration’s manuscript system:


March 27th, 2017: Closing date for submission of abstracts for the workshop

October 20th-21st, 2017: Workshop at Oxford University

December 31st, 2017: Deadline for submission of papers to the journal for peer review

For inquiries please contact Avishai Benish ( or Paola Mattei (


Benish, A., & Levi-Faur, D. (2012). New forms of administrative law in the age of third-party government. Public Administration, 90 (4), 886-900.

Benish, A., & Maron, A. (2016). Infusing Public Law into Privatized Welfare: Lawyers, Economists, and the Competing Logics of Administrative Reform. Law & Society Review, 50 (4), 953-984.

Black, J. (2008). Constructing and Contesting Legitimacy and Accountability in Polycentric Regulatory Regimes. LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Papers, 2/2008.

Brodkin, E. Z. (2011). Policy work: Street-level organizations under new managerialism. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 21, 253-277.

Byrkjeflot, H., Christensen, T., & Lægreid, P. (2014). The many faces of accountability: Comparing reforms in welfare, hospitals and migration. Scandinavian Political Studies, 37 (2), 171-195.

Considine, M. (2002). The end of the line? Accountable governance in the age of networks, partnerships, and joined‐up services. Governance, 15(1), 21-40.

Ebbinghaus, B. (ed.) (2011) The Varieties of Pension Governance: Pension Privatization in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gilad, S. (2008). Accountability or expectations management? The role of the ombudsman in financial regulation. Law & Policy, 30(2), 227-253.

Gilbert, N. (2005). The ‘Enabling State?’ from Public to Private Responsibility for Social Protection (OECD).

Haber, H. (2015). Regulation as social policy: Home evictions and repossessions in the UK and Sweden. Public Administration, 93 (3), 806-821.

Halliday, S., and Scott. 2010. “A Cultural Analysis of Administrative Justice.” In Administrative Justice in Context, edited by Michael Adler, 183-202. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Hood, C. (2000). The Art of the State: Culture, Rhetoric, and Public Management

Le Grand, J. (2009). The other invisible hand: Delivering public services through choice and competition (Princeton University Press).

Levi-Faur, D. (2014). The welfare state: a regulatory perspective. Public Administration, 92 (3), 599-614.

Lodge, M., & Stirton, L. (2010). Accountability in the regulatory state, In: Baldwin, Robert and Cave, Martin and Lodge, Martin, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Regulation. (Oxford University Press).

Mashaw, J. (2006), Accountability and institutional design: Some thoughts on the grammar of governance. In M. W. Dowdle (ed), Public Accountability, Designs, Dilemmas and Experiences, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 115–156.

Mattei, P. (2009). Restructuring welfare organizations in Europe: from democracy to good management? (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan)

Mulgan, R. (2000). ‘Accountability’: An Ever‐Expanding Concept?. Public administration, 78 (3), 555-573.

Mulgan, R. (2003). Holding power to account: accountability in modern democracies. Springer.

Scott, C. (2000), Accountability in the regulatory state, Journal of Law and Society 27, 1: 38–60.

Scott, C. (2006), Spontaneous accountability. In M. W. Dowdle (ed), Public Accountability, Designs, Dilemmas and Experiences, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 174–191.

Stirton, L., & Lodge, M. (2001). Transparency mechanisms: Building publicness into public services. Journal of Law and Society, 28(4), 471-489.

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