Judgments of Responsibility Versus Accountability

Jeremy Brees, Mark J. Martinko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We proposed and found that employees’ judgments of responsibility and accountability are distinct but positively related constructs. Using attribution theory for responsibility judgments and lay dispositionalism for accountability judgments, we hypothesized that employees hold others more responsible (i.e., causal) and accountable (i.e., punishable) than they hold themselves for the same workplace mistakes. Independent mean differences within a sample of 286 working adults revealed that people held others more responsible but not more accountable than they held themselves. Post hoc analyses revealed a counterintuitive finding. Counter to what theory would predict, as workplace mistake seriousness increased the variation between self-judgement and other-judgment decreased. Implications and future directions for accountability research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive processes
  • decision making
  • motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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