A behavioral view on responsibility attribution in multi-level governance
This article provides a behavioral perspective that examines responsibility attribution to the national government (upward) and policy implementers (downward) as a function of performance relative to decision-makers' aspiration levels. The study proposes that perceived accountability increases the propensity of external responsibility attribution, and that decision-makers' political alignment to actors on other governance levels explains when responsibility is deflected upwards or downwards.
- Joris van der Voet, Dovilė Rimkutė
- 29 October 2022
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This study puts forward a behavioral perspective on responsibility attribution in multi-level governance systems to make three contributions. The authors address the divergence between the literature on blame games and the behavioral theory of the firm by addressing in which circumstances decision-makers respond to performance below aspirations by attributing responsibility to other actors. To this end, they focus attention on decision-makers' perceived accountability, the notion that decision-makers have an obligation to justify their conduct, are subject to judgment from other actors, and may face consequences. Furthermore, this study introduces a typology of upward and downward responsibility attribution as a conceptual innovation for the study of responsibility attribution in multi-level governance systems. Finally, the authors make a theoretical contribution by explaining in what circumstances upward and downward responsibility attribution are favored by decision-makers.