Accountability dilemmas and identity struggles

Anna-Karin Stockenstrand (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Publication date: 3 April 2019



The purpose of this paper is to add to our understanding of how external factors such as funding and external accountabilities affect the organisational inner workings, especially identity issues.


The paper is based on a comparative case study of two professional chamber orchestras, one in Sweden and one in the UK. The two orchestras had significantly different funding conditions and had different relations with funders and were thus exposed to different kinds of accountability dilemmas. The two organisations were studied using and ethnographically inspired approach. The developments of various parts of the organisations were studied, such as funding, management, strategy, management control and identity issues.


The paper illustrates how the solution to accountability dilemmas in an organisation can, over time, result in the protection or the dilution of a perceived organisational core and thus in an identity struggle. Especially, management has to deal with the balance between financial and operational accountability, where organisational members could perceive the decisions to be confirming or rejecting what they perceived as being the higher purpose of their work.

Practical implications

This paper may help managers become more aware of the long ranging consequences of managerial decisions and how such decisions may affect the identity orientation of organisational members.


The paper combines the concept of identity with the concept of accountability, something that has not been done to a large extent in previous research.



Stockenstrand, A. (2019), "Accountability dilemmas and identity struggles", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 2-29.

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