`titrebThe accountability of public managers. Theoretical elements and observations drawn from the Quebec experience`/titrebThis paper deals with the accountability of public managers in a context in which the relationships between elected officials, civil servants and highranking managers of government agencies are becoming ever more complex. The authors acquiesce a conceptual framework which allows to apprehend this complexity, which generates governance tensions, at four distinct analytical levels : institutional, organizational, managerial and instrumental. They illustrate their approach by explaining the historical evolution of the notion of accountability and its concrete manifestations in the civil service of the province of Quebec. They conclude by pleading in favor of a combination of institutional and instrumental approaches of the concept and practice of public sector accountability. The latter should be thought and deployed with a particular emphasis on the dilemmas, paradoxes and uncertainties which public action inevitably generates.