Abstract of our article on conceptualizing accountability in the Internet of Things.
Current expectations are that the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies (e.g. radio frequency identification devices (RFID) in supply chains) will improve accountability in organisations. However, it remains unclear if, why and when such expectations will actually be met. This is because new technologies not only address, but also produce new accountability demands and human actors might experience difficulties in satisfying these accountabilities. This article presents a theoretical framework for understanding how IoT technologies enable or constrain control capabilities of actors and how this influences actors’ capabilities to satisfy accountability demands. We discuss multiple dimensions of accountability (i.e. visibility, responsibility and liability) and control (i.e. transparency, predictability and influence), and explain how control and accountability are constitutively entangled with the capacities of IoT technologies (i.e. informate, automate and transform). To illustrate the framework, we provide vignettes from an IoT application used to detect counterfeits in the supply chain. The article contributes to the on-going debate on benefits and risks of IoT technologies and emphasises the importance of predicting organisational issues already in early stages of technology development.