Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, enforcement, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in both the public and private (corporation) worlds.
Accountability is defined as "A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct" .
In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.
"Accountability" stems from late Latin accomptare (to account), a prefixed form of computare (to calculate), which in turn derived from putare (to reckon). The word is an extension of the terminology used in the money lending systems that first developed in Ancient Greece and later, Rome. One would borrow money from a money lender, be that a local Temple or Merchant, and would then be held responsible to their account with that party. Responsibility is also a close synonym. Perhaps the first written statement of accountability is in the Code of Hammurabi, where Hammurabi describes certain undesirable actions and their consequences. One example:
"If a man uses violence on another man's wife to sleep with her, the man shall be killed, but the wife shall be blameless."
Other early examples can be found in the Bible.
Bruce Stone, O.P. Dwivedi, and Joseph G. Jabbra list 8 types of accountability, namely: moral, administrative, political, managerial, market, legal/judicial, constituency...