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Neopatrimonialism, good governance, corruption and accounting in Africa: Idealism vs pragmatism

Trevor Hopper (School of Business, Management and Economics, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK) (Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2042-1168

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to reflect on how best to design, implement and assess accounting reforms in Africa.


A cross-disciplinary literature review.


Whilst neopatrimonialism inhibits optimal development, some forms do not block it. Such governance often permeates African politics and reforms directed at its elimination may fail due to a lack of political will. Thus accounting reforms should recognize their political feasibility and be directed at areas congruent with strengthening attributes of a developmental state.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need to evaluate accounting reforms with respect to the level of a country’s development, relate them to its political governance, and evaluate them with respect to incremental rather than absolute achievement of their aims.

Practical implications

Rather than relying on imported “best practice” accounting standards and systems, there is a need for greater indigenous involvement to create systems that meet local needs and circumstances to increase indigenous accounting capacity and will to reform.

Social implications

Whilst the push to good governance is a desirable ideal, reforms need to be pragmatic with respect to feasibility.


The paper relates recent work on development to accounting reform in Africa which has been neglected by accounting scholars and practitioners.



Hopper, T. (2017), "Neopatrimonialism, good governance, corruption and accounting in Africa: Idealism vs pragmatism", Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 225-248.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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