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Sources of accountability inside the boardroom

Julia Goodman (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Hayley Pearson (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Morris Mthombeni (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 18 January 2021

Issue publication date: 15 July 2021

452

Abstract

Purpose

Despite indications of scholarly interest, there are still gaps in the research of the concept of felt accountability, especially the felt accountability of board members. This paper aims to clarify the sources of accountability experienced by board members. Especially those in a non-executive capacity. How these sources can be accessed to enhance felt accountability and thereby governance effectiveness is explored.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative, exploratory research methods were used. In total, 15 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were completed with non-executive board members of Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed companies in South Africa. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse data.

Findings

The findings clarified the formal and informal sources of accountability experienced by non-executive board members. This included relational and structural mechanisms that can be used within corporate governance to enhance both types of accountability. Accessing the identified sources of accountability through appropriate mechanisms could increase the levels of felt accountability experienced by the individual non-executive board member, thereby strengthening accountability inside the boardroom and improving overall board effectiveness. The study also revealed a layer of implicit and explicit accountability.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted solely in South Africa, with non-executive board members of Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed companies.

Originality/value

There is limited research that clarifies the sources of accountability experienced by non-executive board members. This study aims to address this gap in the literature by providing techniques on how to enable the clarified sources of accountability to improve governance effectiveness.

Keywords

Citation

Goodman, J., Pearson, H. and Mthombeni, M. (2021), "Sources of accountability inside the boardroom", European Business Review, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 667-691. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBR-05-2020-0119

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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