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Accounting and the post-new public management: Re-considering publicness in accounting research

Ileana Steccolini (Newcastle University London, London, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 4 December 2018

Issue publication date: 15 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to reflect various pathways for public sector accounting and accountability research in a post-new public management (NPM) context.


The paper first discusses the relationship between NPM and public sector accounting research. It then explores the possible stimuli that inter-disciplinary accounting scholars may derive from recent public administration studies, public policy and societal trends, highlighting possible ways to extend public sector accounting research and strengthen dialogue with other disciplines.


NPM may have represented a golden age, but also a “golden cage,” for the development of public sector accounting research. The paper reflects possible ways out of this golden cage, discussing future avenues for public sector accounting research. In doing so, it highlights the opportunities offered by re-considering the “public” side of accounting research and shifting the attention from the public sector, seen as a context for public sector accounting research, to publicness, as a concept central to such research.


The paper calls for stronger engagement with contemporary developments in public administration and policy. This could be achieved by looking at how public sector accounting accounts for, but also impacts on, issues of wider societal relevance, such as co-production and hybridization of public services, austerity, crises and wicked problems, the creation and maintenance of public value and democratic participation.



This paper is based on the author’s plenary presentation at the 8th APIRA conference at RMIT, Melbourne, in July 2016. The author is grateful to Garrie Carnegie, Lee Parker and James Guthrie for their encouragement in writing this paper. The author also indebted to Eugenio Anessi Pessina, Carmen Barbera, Enrico Guarini, Noel Hyndman, Martin Jones, Sanja Korac, Irvine Lapsley, Mariannunziata Liguori, Jim Perry, Iris Saliterer, MariaFrancesca Sicilia, who have all being precious sources of inspiration of these reflections. The author would like in particular to thank Enrico Bracci, James Guthrie, Jim Haslam, Chris Humphrey, Stewart Smyth and Jan Van Helden and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful revisions and comments on previous versions of this paper. Any errors remain of the author.


Steccolini, I. (2019), "Accounting and the post-new public management: Re-considering publicness in accounting research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 255-279.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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