The intense reform process that invests the Italian higher education and scientific research system is hereby considered in the light of the concept of accountability. Within that framework, the paper addresses the definition of accountability along with the associated principles of transparency, responsibility and responsiveness. The different logics and forms of accountability are thereafter discussed by highlighting the difficulties which arise with respect to the necessary link between accountability rhetoric and organizational models. The author argues that the present situation of widespread discomfort within Italian universities is related to the disconnection between prevailing types of accountability and sense of the reform process. The paper ends by proposing the concept of social accountability as a possible way to be explored in order to overcome the difficulties highlighted in the previous paragraphs. The principle is briefly presented. Some considerations are introduced as to its potentials but also as to some possible limitations
Keywords: Accountability; University; Autonomy; Responsibility; Social Accountability.