Autonomy, Responsibility and Accountability in the Italian Schools

Posted: 25 Sep 2008 Last revised: 4 May 2009


The attention on education and the management of the schools represent important elements of the overall public sector management reforms in many OECD countries. The Italian school system has been characterised, in the last decade, by a process of granting schools a degree of autonomy in terms of educational, managerial and financial functions. Autonomy goes hand by hand with responsibility and accountability systems of schools. This paper delivers a critical analysis of the accountability system designed intentionally or not by the reform. The reform is based on the assumption that more local managed schools will improve the overall performance, through more autonomy, responsibility and accountability. In doing so, the concept of accountability web and the role of cultural traits in developing forms of accountability are used in order to analyse the context of three case studies. The findings suggest that the reform created a dual-based accountability on schools causing higher level of stress in the organization, and a misalignment on the accountability web between school manager and teachers.

Keywords: Autonomy responsibility accountability web

JEL Classification: M40

Suggested Citation

Bracci, Enrico, Autonomy, Responsibility and Accountability in the Italian Schools. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 293-312, Available at SSRN:

Enrico Bracci (Contact Author)

University of Ferrara ( email )

Via Voltapaletto, 11
Via Voltapaletto, 11
Ferrara, Ferrara 44121

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