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Accountability ( English account ) is in many fields differently used term, with the general the declaration of a social actor on its previous decisions , acts and omissions will be understood.


The Central German "Rechinschaft" appeared for the first time around 1401 and meant something like "calculation, accounting". Martin Luther used it in his doctrine of justification in the disputations between September 11, 1535 and June 1, 1537, which refer to the justification theological central clause from Rom 3:28  EU as “justification of one's own actions”.

Because of today's interdisciplinary nature of the term and the different goals of individual subject areas, there is no uniform term content for accountability. However, common attributes can be derived from the most varied of definitions. This includes the (verbal) explanation of an event ( deviating from the norm ) that is given by one social actor to another. However, if facts deviating from the norm are placed in the foreground, the failure (failure to make a decision that should have been made) is considered an event.


The German Civil Code (BGB) uses the term accountability several times, but offers no legal definition . As early as April 1910, the Reichsgericht (RG) was of the opinion that accountability was regularly a consequence of handling foreign affairs. In the context of the contractual obligations , the expressions “issue an account” and “give an account” are used in the sense of § 259 Paragraph 1 BGB, depending on whether the administration is still ongoing or has already been completed, in the sense of comprehensive accountability. The contractor shall at the request not only information contact, but also give an account ( § 666 BGB). Accountability here means providing information about what the contractor has done or not done and how he has carried out the order. He has to compile the income and expenses for information purposes and to document them for accountability purposes so that the client can check their accuracy. Guardians , carers and carers (see the reference in § 1908i Paragraph 1 BGB, § 1915 BGB) have to report to the guardianship court or a counter- guardian ( § 1842 BGB) annually. This includes a report on the ward's personal circumstances ( Section 1840 (1) BGB), an accounting for asset management (Section 1840 (2) to (4) BGB) and the invoice from the guardianship court ( Section 1843 (1) BGB).

According to Section 131 (1 ) AktG , the management board must provide information on company matters to every shareholder upon request at the general meeting of a stock corporation ; according to Section 131 (2) AktG, this information must comply with the principles of conscientious and faithful accountability. According to Article 21, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law , the parties must “give a public account of the origin and use of their funds and their assets”.


The account is used by the users of the annual financial statements ( creditors , rating agencies , shareholders , employees , the state and the accounting company) to orientate themselves about the asset, financial and earnings position of the publishing company. One of the essential functions of the annual financial statements and, in particular, of the associated management report is its accountability function, according to which the company gives an account of its business operations and the status of its assets and debts in the past financial year . “Accountability implies that the annual financial statements remain free of more or less arbitrary or intersubjectively not verifiable approaches and evaluations (...)”. Section 264, Paragraph 2, Clause 1 of the German Commercial Code ( HGB) is viewed as a point of reference for the accountability of corporations , while the information function is seen as immanent or even synonymous with the accountability function. There are publication obligations so that the addressees can gain knowledge of the report .

An accountability in report form is also an accountability report .

Organizational theory

Responsibility includes the organization theory , the obligation of a job holder or functionary , on the proper performance of his place in the way the delegation assigned tasks accountable. Responsibility is inextricably linked with accountability; accountability is therefore communicated responsibility. Job responsibility is the obligation of the task carrier , about the proper fulfillment of having to put him assigned tasks accountable. Accountability here means that the functionary has to report to his superior or to others about the performance of his duties and, in the event of errors , has to submit to the sanctions provided for this . This also applies to the case of external responsibility .


In philosophy , "responsibility as an expression of the dialogical existence of man (...) consists in the fact that man can be held accountable for himself and his actions". Retrospective responsibility is also referred to as imputation, imputation, justification or accountability, since actions, action results or indirect action consequences are imputed to a person.


The Christ is the Last Day ( latin "this iudicii" ) store not only responsible for his actions but must even for his words accountable, "But I tell you that people must give account in the judgment of every idle word, that they have spoken ”( Mt 12.36  EU ), ( Lk 16.2  EU ). In Islam , humans are solely responsible for their behavior and must be accountable for it on Judgment Day. Muslims are not held accountable for a careless word in the oath, but for words sworn with care. Islam also differs from Christianity in terms of accountability for useless words .

Web links

Wiktionary: Accountability  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hermann Paul, German Dictionary: History of Meaning and Structure of Our Vocabulary , 1992, p. 785
  2. Helmar Junghans (ed.), Luther after 1530: Theologie, Kirche und Politik , August 2002, p. 214
  3. Max Kury, giving an account to rebuild trust , 2014, p. 44
  4. RGZ 73, 286, 288
  5. ^ Mathias Schmoeckel / Joachim Rückert, Historical-Critical Commentary on the BGB , 2003, p. 744
  6. ^ Jörg Baetge / Hans-Jürgen Kirsch / Stefan Thiele, Bilanzen , 2011, p. 95
  7. Verena Ohms, The accounting of goodwill in the consolidated financial statements according to HGB and IFRS , 2010, p. 55
  8. Joachim Karger, responsibility , in: Fritz Neske / Markus Wiener (eds.), Management-Lexikon , Volume 4, 1985, p. 1537
  9. Karl Rahner (ed.), Herders Theologisches Taschenlexikon , Volume 8, 1973, p. 36 f