Accounting for what and to whom? Accountability tensions in collaborations addressing long-term unemployment

Magnus Paulsen Hansen*, Peter Triantafillou, Benedetta Bellò, Jan Boon, Dries Van Doninck, James Downe, Cate Hopkins, Erik Hans Klijn, Külli Sarapuu, Vidar Stevens, Koen Verhoest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Across Europe, public employment services are experimenting with more holistic and cross-sector collaborations to tackle the wicked problem of long-term unemployment. These collaborations operate in a context characterised by tensions produced by multiple demands for accountability. Based on case studies of the accountability relations and challenges in five such collaborations in the Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders), Estonia, Scotland and Denmark, we found that: rigorous use of quantifiable measurement regimes made it difficult to attribute salience to important aspects of the progress made by the unemployed citizen; standardised accounts come with the risk of reductionist understandings of the citizen's social circumstances and resources; superficial participation by local politicians resulted in rather weak political accountability and a marked ambiguity of the role of the client as both accountee and accountholder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1171
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant number 726840 (TROPICO project).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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