Pushing the limits of accountability: big-data analytics containing and controlling COVID-19 in South Korea

Ahn, P. and Wickramasinghe, D. (2021) Pushing the limits of accountability: big-data analytics containing and controlling COVID-19 in South Korea. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 34(6), pp. 1320-1331. (doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-08-2020-4829)

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how big data analytics pushed the limits of individuals' accountability as South Korea tried to control and contain coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw upon Deleuzo-Guattarian framework elaborating how a surveillant assemblage was rhizomatically created and operated to monitor a segment of the population holding them accountable. Publicly available secondary data, such as press release from the government and media coverage, were used. Findings: A COVID-19 Smart Management System and a Self-Quarantine Safety Protection App constituted a surveillance assemblage operating in a “state-form”. This comprises the central government departments, local councils, policing systems, providers of telecommunication and financial services, and independent groups of people. This assemblage pushed the limits of accountability as individuals who tested positive or might bear possible future risks of the infection and transmission were held accountable for their locations and health conditions. Practical implications: Policymakers may consider constructing this type of state-form for containing and controlling pandemics, such as COVID-19, while dealing with the issue of undermined privacy. Social implications: The mass may consider to what extent individuals' personal information should be protected and how to hold the governments accountable for the legitimate use of such information. Originality/value: While accountability studies have largely focussed on formal organisations, the authors illustrated how a broader context of a state-form, harnessing big data analytics, pushes the limits of accountability.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ahn, Dr Paul and Wickramasinghe, Professor Danture
Authors: Ahn, P., and Wickramasinghe, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
ISSN (Online):1758-4205
Published Online:19 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 34(6): 1320-1331
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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