The Public Sector Accounting, Accountability and Auditing in Emerging Economies: Volume 15

Cover of The Public Sector Accounting, Accountability and Auditing in Emerging Economies

Table of contents

(15 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and synthesise insights from the papers contained in this special issue on accounting, accountability and auditing in emerging economies.

Methodology/approach

This paper draws upon general desk research and the papers in this special edition.

Findings

This paper shows that the rapid development of public sector accounting, accountability and auditing in emerging economies presents theoretical and empirical challenges because of the different ways in which public sector reforms and changes are understood and enacted within institutions.

Practical implications

This paper provides academics, regulators and reporting organisations with robust evidence to help inform improvements in policy and practice. It is concluded that public sector accounting, accountability and auditing reforms in emerging economies are more likely to achieve set objectives if there is a high degree of local-level involvement in their implementation.

Originality/value

Drawing together a collection of papers in this emerging research field, this paper highlights many areas where further academic research is needed as well as indicating some new ways forward.

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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the reasons why Sri Lanka adopted International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) recently. Many less developed countries (LDCs) have introduced IPSAS during the recent past. However, little research has been conducted to study the New Public Financial Management and accrual accounting and their impact on LDCs.

Methodology/approach

Using a qualitative approach, the methods of this paper consist of interviews, a documentary review and participatory observation in the Ministry of Finance and Planning (MOFP) and Auditor General’s Department of Sri Lanka, and present a critical interpretation supported by the perspective of globalisation.

Findings

The findings of the research indicate that the public sector reforms and the transition from cash accounting to accrual accounting in the public sector have been strongly affected by the global pressures imposed by international agencies such as International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) and the World Bank (WB). Empirical evidence shows the dysfunctional impact of globalisation in the public sector accounting standards as there are major structural issues yet to resolve. There are increasing doubts over whether the change to accrual accounting is worth the costs and the additional risks involved.

Research limitations

The results of the interviews are based on the knowledge and past experiences of interviewees. What is generalisable is an understanding of the processes and mechanisms that relate to the way the public sector accounting functions.

Originality/value

This paper adds new literature on public sector accounting in LDCs, which recognises the nexus and interests of international agencies and practice of public sector accounting.

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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges and influential factors experienced in the development of public sector accounting reforms in the emerging economy of Sri Lanka. The reforms aim to improve public governance and transparency while reducing corruption and dishonesty.

Methodology/approach

Qualitative (thematic) analysis has been employed by using both primary and secondary data. Primary data was obtained by interviewing selected respondents from public sector organisations in Sri Lanka. The respondents were selected by using an expert purposive sampling technique. Apart from the primary data, secondary data such as government reports, relevant literature and paper articles was also analysed in order to produce more robust findings.

Findings

The findings indicate that technological and cultural factors have influenced accounting reforms in the public sector in Sri Lanka. In addition, the politicisation and bureaucracy of the public sector as well as sluggish attitudes towards costs have served as prominent barriers to efficient implementation of the reforms.

Research limitations

This study was limited in terms of generalisation because of relatively small sample sizes. A larger sample with more diversity could have enhanced the generalisation of the results which could serve as direction for further research.

Originality/value

This paper is intended to fill a gap in the existing literature on public sector accounting reforms in the context of less developed or emerging countries. It is hopefully valuable for both policy makers and practitioners by allowing them to view the development, challenges and influential aspects of the implementation of New Public Management (NPM) in Sri Lanka in order that they will be able to make informed decisions about adopting more efficient NPM practices to enhance the country’s competitive advantages.

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Purpose

The adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) in particular the Cash Basis IPSAS has now become a priority for the World Bank and other donors in less developed countries (LDCs). The paper explores the dissemination and implementation of the Cash Basis IPSAS in Nepal, a less developed country which is considered as one of the front-runners in terms of embracing the Cash Basis IPSAS.

Methodology/approach

The paper draws on diffusion theory to explain the internal and external factors related to the adoption and implementation of the Cash Basis IPSAS in the Nepali public sector. Data for the paper are derived from document analysis and semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The study shows that the adoption and implementation of the Cash Basis IPSAS in Nepal has become more of rhetoric than reality. Claims that the Cash Basis IPSAS is gaining popularity and widespread success across less developed countries are therefore contentious.

Research limitations

The case of Nepalese central government may not be adequate to generalise the adoption of the cash basis IPSAS in all less developed countries. Nonetheless, the study provides an overview of on-going public sector accounting reforms in less developed countries.

Originality/value

The paper emphasises the need for the identification of good accounting practices for less developed countries rather than forcing them into symbolic acceptance of the Cash Basis IPSAS. An example of such a good practice can be the promotion of certain aspects of modified cash accounting.

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Purpose

This paper examines accounting practices and legitimacy in Tanzanian Local Government Authorities (LGAs).

Methodology/approach

It uses data from multiple sources, including interviews, observations and documents, to provide theoretical and practical understanding on how accounting has been practiced and the conditions which sustain its undertaking. It applies a grounded theory method to develop a theory systematically from the raw data.

Findings

The principal research findings from the data concern the central phenomenon of ‘manipulating legitimacy’. This involved the purposeful and deliberate use of accounting techniques to influence and control (and sometimes even to falsify) the perceived reasonableness of the Councils’ operations. The paper revealed that the effective operations of the Tanzanian LGAs were highly constrained by their context. This had forced the LGAs’ officials to use important accounting practices such as budgeting, financial reporting, auditing and performance measurement, to manipulate the organisational legitimacy, a process which ensured the availability of resources to both LGAs and the individual officials.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of the research is that the data was collected from a limited number of local authorities in just one developing country. It is hoped that future research in other developing countries will be undertaken to broaden and deepen our understanding.

Originality/value

The paper identifies the importance of manipulating legitimacy in understanding accounting practices in local government.

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Purpose

This paper seeks to establish the influence of several types of factors on the use of accounting information in the public sector within a developing country context. Institutional theory with its branches NIS and OIE underlies the theoretical framework for explaining the factors influencing the use of accounting information. The analysis was based on structural equation modelling to test nine hypotheses. The data were collected by administering 208 questionnaires to the Tanzanian Local Government Authorities’ political and administrative actors.

Findings

At large, the findings of this study comprehend the role of institutionalised social and legal rule with professionalism in shaping actors to use accounting information instrumentally and symbolically in budget decision-making processes. Furthermore, the findings establish the importance of education and experiences on accounting and financial aspects of the actors who are involved in the public sector budget decision-making process. The findings also provide an understanding of the differences between political actors and administrative actors in terms of the factors influencing the symbolic use of accounting information in LGA’s decision-making processes.

Practical implication

Our findings challenge development partners (i.e. donors), reformers such as Central Government and National Accounting professional board such NBAA in Tanzania to coerce pressure by adoption of implementation of NPM techniques, which can lead to positive change in LGAs to influence instrumental rather than symbolic use of accounting information in the budgetary decision-making processes. For example, adoption of accrual basis accounting should also concur with the improvement of accounting information systems, legal and regulatory frameworks together with creation of trainings that increase skill and knowledge of using accounting information by the actors. This might ensure financial sustainability to LGAs that can increase provision of service with relevant quality to citizens. Moreover, the findings need the political parties to take responsibility of building capacity of their candidates. It might ensure that their representatives in the council are capable of making appropriate use of the accounting information at their disposal to improve the quality of budget decision making and their representation of the population for the benefit of their organisation and eventually of their political parties. The citizens are needed to be sources of professional behaviours to both councillors and administrators by making closer follow up and demands of quality services from their LGAs through budgeting processes.

Research limitations

The generalisation of this study’s findings can be limited because they were obtained only from LGAs operating in Tanzania

Original/value

This is the first paper that establishes the factors influencing the instrumental–conceptual use and the symbolic use of accounting information in LGAs’ budgetary decision-making processes in developing country context, in particular, in Tanzania.

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Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge and obtain an understanding of the phenomenon of public sector external auditing (PSEA) in Tanzania.

Methodology/approach

The paper used a grounded theory method informed by a critical approach. It used data from multiple sources including interviews, observations and documents, to provide a theoretical and practical understanding of PSEA in Tanzania. The theoretical aspects were developed ‘in vivo’ and were also informed by the Habermasian concept of colonisation.

Findings

The principal research findings from the data concern the central phenomenon of managing colonising tendencies in PSEA which appeared to be the core strategy for both the government and external auditors. While the government appeared to manage the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) appearance and exploited the legitimising features of PSEA, external auditors manoeuvred within colonising tendencies and attempted to maintain the ‘audit supremacy’ image. PSEA in Tanzania encountered colonising tendencies because of weak working relationship between the NAOT and other accountability agencies, inconsistencies in governance and politics, the culture of corruption and secrecy, dependence on foreign financing and mimicking of foreign models. To coexist within this colonising environment, external auditors managed their relationship with auditees and the complexities of PSEA roles. Managing colonising tendencies resulted into obscured subordination of PSEA, contributing to cosmetic accountability and growing public interest in PSEA.

Research limitations/implications

It is hoped that future research in other countries, in and beyond Africa, will be undertaken to broaden and deepen our understanding of the external auditing of public sector entities.

Originality/value

The paper combines grounded theory with a critical approach to understand PSEA in a developing country.

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About the Authors

Pages 223-226
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About the Editors

Pages 227-228
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Cover of The Public Sector Accounting, Accountability and Auditing in Emerging Economies
DOI
10.1108/S1479-3563201515
Publication date
2015-10-15
Book series
Research in Accounting in Emerging Economies
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-662-1
Book series ISSN
1479-3563