Performative Accountability And The Uk Research Assessment Exercise

Alis Oancea
Vol 27, Number 1-2, p.133
This paper uses data from the submissions to, and ratings from, RAE 2001 to reflect on shifts in public understandings of institutional research accountability over the past two decades in the United Kingdom. In particular, it looks at what has been described as a decline of professional and communicative modes of accountability in favour of more technical and managerial ones. This shift was accompanied by a conceptual change, from accountability as responsibility and communicative reason to accountability as hierarchical answerability (with corresponding changes in values, concepts of public good and hierarchies of knowledge). The paper argues that, post-RAE, neither the reinforcement of targets, indicators, standards and techniques of managerial accountability, nor the closure of academia to external scrutiny, are likely to be the way forward. Rather, what is needed is a restoration of discursive, democratic and ethical dimensions of the relationship between research, the public, and policy