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Article
Publication date: 18 January 2021

Julia Goodman, Hayley Pearson and Morris Mthombeni

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…

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.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

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Article
Publication date: 22 May 2019

Larry Amartei Amartey, Mei Yu and Osita Chukwu-lobelu

This study aims to examine the mechanisms that were being used to enhance board accountability of Ghanaian listed banks, and how board accountability can be improved.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the mechanisms that were being used to enhance board accountability of Ghanaian listed banks, and how board accountability can be improved.

Design/methodology/approach

The 2011 and 2016 annual reports of listed banks on the Ghana Stock Exchange were examined, and a survey questionnaire was sent to board members of nine banks.

Findings

The results show that the directors of Ghanaian listed banks prioritise a shareholder approach to accountability, with a shift towards stakeholders. Audit committees, external audits and internal audits were the main mechanisms used by these banks to enhance board accountability. Some of these mechanisms were not used effectively by a number of these banks.

Practical implications

Board accountability can be improved by appointing very competent people to the board, the national adoption of a mandatory code of corporate governance, regular rotation of external auditors and requiring non-executive directors to stand for re-election more frequently. Our research identifies weaknesses of accountability mechanisms and offers timely recommendations for banks and regulators to build stronger corporate governance systems.

Originality/value

This study obtained valuable opinions of the boards of directors, provides insights on boards of Ghanaian listed banks and contributes to the literature of corporate governance and accountability in Africa.

Details

Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1358-1988

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Article
Publication date: 2 May 2017

Michael R. Ford and Douglas M. Ihrke

The purpose of this paper is to determine the differing ways in which nonprofit charter and traditional public school board members define the concept of accountability in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the differing ways in which nonprofit charter and traditional public school board members define the concept of accountability in the school or schools they oversee. The findings speak to the governing consequences of shifting oversight of public education from democratically elected bodies to unelected nonprofit governing boards.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use originally collected survey data from democratically elected school board members and nonprofit charter school board members in Minnesota to test for differences in how these two populations view accountability. Open-ended survey questions are coded according to a previously used accountability typology.

Findings

The authors find that charter school board members are more likely than traditional public school board members to define accountability through high stakes testing as opposed to staff professionalization and bureaucratic systems.

Originality/value

The results speak to the link between board governance structure and accountability in the public education sector, providing new understanding on the way in which non-elected charter school board members view their accountability function.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2017

Gavin Nicholson, Amedeo Pugliese and Pieter-Jan Bezemer

Corporate accountability is a complex chain of reporting that reaches from external stakeholders into the organization’s management structure. The transition from external…

Abstract

Purpose

Corporate accountability is a complex chain of reporting that reaches from external stakeholders into the organization’s management structure. The transition from external to internal accountability mechanisms primarily occurs at the board of directors. Yet outside of incentive mechanisms, we know surprisingly little about how internal actors (management) are held to account by the representatives of external shareholders (the board). The purpose of this paper is to explore the process of accountability at this transition point by documenting the routines used by boards to hold the firm’s management to account. In doing so, we develop the understanding of the important transition between internal and external firm accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

An inductive, case-based approach identifies recurrent behaviour patterns in two matched boards over three video-taped meetings. Sequential analysis of coded group and individual behaviours provides insight into boardsaccountability routines.

Findings

The boards engaged in clear, recurrent accountability routines. Individuals on the boards play different roles in these routines depending on the issue before the board, allowing both directors and managers to hold each other to account. The outsiders (directors) both challenge and support the insiders (managers) during board discussions, switching their behaviours with different agenda items but maintaining a consistent group level of support and scepticism across the meeting. This allows for the simultaneous development of trust and verification at the group level, a necessary condition for effective accountability.

Research limitations/implications

As board relationships and organisational context are highly variable, future research should concentrate on testing the generalizability of the results across different board and shareholder structures.

Practical implications

The results call into question the current governance focus on the independence of the individual director, as the authors identify that all directors appear to act as agents at one time or another in a meeting. Accountability at the boardroom level requires an effective group process not usually addressed in governance recommendations or regulation.

Originality/value

This study provides unique insights into board dynamics, documenting the accountability implications of group behaviours. By focussing on the group process, the authors highlight the potential mismatch of monotonic, individual-level approaches to governance and accountability prevalent in current agency approaches.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2017

Andrew Keay

The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate that notwithstanding the fact that stewardship theory embraces things like trust of directors, their professionalism, loyalty…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate that notwithstanding the fact that stewardship theory embraces things like trust of directors, their professionalism, loyalty and willingness to be concerned for the interests of others, as well as rejecting the foundations of classic agency problems that are asserted by agency theory, board accountability is as relevant to stewardship theory as it is to agency theory.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper applies the theory underlying board accountability in corporate governance, which is so often applied both in the corporate governance literature and in practice with agency theory in mind, to stewardship theory.

Findings

While the idea of accountability of boards is generally associated with an explanation and conceptualisation of the role and behaviour of directors as agents within classic agency theory, the paper demonstrates that board accountability is a necessary part of board life even if the role of directors is explained and conceptualised in terms of stewardship theory.

Practical implications

The paper suggests some accountability mechanisms that might be employed in a stewardship approach.

Originality/value

While many authors have talked in general terms about board accountability and its importance, this is the first paper that has engaged in a substantial study that links board accountability directly with stewardship theory, and to establish that accountability is necessary.

Details

International Journal of Law and Management, vol. 59 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-243X

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2012

Teerooven Soobaroyen and Jyoti Devi Mahadeo

The purpose of this study is to examine whether the expectations and requirements contained within the corporate governance code have an impact on how accountability is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine whether the expectations and requirements contained within the corporate governance code have an impact on how accountability is perceived, understood and practiced by company board members in an emerging economy (Mauritius).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper relies on 24 semi‐structured interviews of board members in listed and non‐listed companies and also analyses the accountability implications present in the local code of corporate governance and relevant reports. The analysis is informed by the typologies of board accountability and process developed by Roberts in 2001 (socialising, individualising, sovereign and complementary) and is complemented by Pettigrew and McNulty's 1995 notions of minimalist and maximalist boards.

Findings

From a state which can largely be associated to the notion of sovereign governance and a minimalist board, the findings reveal a substantive change in the type of board accountability but it is one which privileges an individualising form of board interactions. A move to a more empowered “maximalist” board is also noted. Notwithstanding, the paper uncovers specific issues with the INED as an accountability mechanism in that there is much fuzziness on his/her role and motivations and whether INEDs can conceivably contribute to a socialising form of board accountability.

Originality/value

The paper responds to calls for more qualitative research on how boards actually operate in emerging economies, at a time when an increasing number of countries have adopted corporate governance requirements drawn primarily from the Anglo‐American model. This paper contributes to the literature by providing empirical evidence on corporate board processes and dynamics in non‐Western contexts.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

Karen VanPeursem, Kevin Old and Stuart Locke

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the accountability practices of the directors in New Zealand and Australian dairy co-operatives. An interpretation of their…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the accountability practices of the directors in New Zealand and Australian dairy co-operatives. An interpretation of their practices, which focus on the relationship between directors and their farmer-shareholders, is informed by Roberts’ (2001a) understandings of a socializing accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The fieldwork consists of interviews with 23 directors, including all chief executive officers and chairmen, of six dairy co-operatives together with observations and document analysis. These co-operatives together comprise a significant portion of the regional dairy industry. The methodology draws from Eisenhardt’s (1989) qualitative approach to theory formation.

Findings

The authors find that these directors engage in a discourse-based, community-grounded and egalitarian form of socializing accountability. As such, their practices adhere generally to Roberts (2001a) hopes for a more considerate and humble relationship between an accountor and an accountee.

Social implications

Findings add to the small pool of research on the lived experiences of co-operative boards and to a parsimonious literature in socializing accountability practices. The contributions of the study are in advancing real understandings of alternative forms of accountability, in evaluating the conditions in which these alternatives may be likely to arise and in anticipating the challenges and opportunities that arise therefrom.

Originality/value

The originality of the project arises from accessing the views of these industry leaders and, through their frank expressions, coming to understand how they achieve a form of a socializing accountability in their relationships with farmer-shareholders.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article
Publication date: 6 April 2012

Suzy Braye, David Orr and Michael Preston‐Shoot

The purpose of this article is to report the findings from research into the governance of adult safeguarding policy and practice in England, with particular focus on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to report the findings from research into the governance of adult safeguarding policy and practice in England, with particular focus on interagency partnership arrangements expressed through Safeguarding Adults Boards.

Design/methodology/approach

The study comprised a systematic search and thematic analysis of English‐language literature on adult safeguarding governance, a survey of Safeguarding Adults Board documentation, and key informant interviews and workshops with professionals involved in adult protection.

Findings

The effectiveness of adult safeguarding governance arrangements has not been subject to prior formal evaluation and thus the literature provided little research‐led evidence of good practice. The survey and workshops, however, revealed a rich and complex pattern of arrangements spanning a number of dimensions – the goals and purpose of interagency working, the structures of boards, their membership, chairing and rules of engagement, their functions, and their accountabilities.

Research limitations/implications

The research focus here is England, and thus does not incorporate learning from other jurisdictions. Whilst the research scrutinises the extent to which Boards practise empowerment, service users and carers are not directly involved in the fieldwork aspects of this study. In view of the absence of outcomes evidence identified, there remains a need to investigate the impacts of different forms of governance.

Practical implications

Drawing on this research and on governance frameworks in the context of related interagency fields, the article identifies standards to benchmark the approach to governance taken by Safeguarding Adult Boards.

Originality/value

The benchmarking framework will enable Safeguarding Adults Boards to audit, evaluate, and further develop a range of robust governance arrangements.

Details

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2015

Kari Nyland and Inger Johanne Pettersen

The purpose of this paper is to discuss why public sector reforms hybridize during implementation processes, consequences on accountability relations and practitioners…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss why public sector reforms hybridize during implementation processes, consequences on accountability relations and practitioners’ and policymakers’ reactions to these changes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper considers experiences from three initiatives related to the governance reform in the Norwegian hospital sector. Data were collected via interviews and document studies, and all three cases were longitudinal studies.

Findings

Unexpected consequences of reform initiatives and contextual changes are causing controls to hybridize and having profound effects on accountability relations. However, the gradually alignment of controls in a dynamic pattern of hybridization enables the balancing of conflicts in the chain of accountabilities. Hybrid controls are observed to emerge as stronger than the initial ideal control models. The longitudinal studies of control hybridization illuminate the sector’s survival in the long run, as they allow for adaptation to changes in contexts.

Practical implications

This work augments leaders’ understanding of how governmental strategies may follow diverse paths and yield results that diverge from intentions. Narrow accountability bases inhibit the government from implementing political decisions through agencies. Conversely, agents must relate to direct control from authorities. The predictability of agents’ decision space is reduced, and the control process becomes more ambiguous.

Originality/value

Through connecting what happens in agencies with accountabilities in the political level, it is possible to study the flexible nature of accountability relations and why controls hybridize. The paper underlines the need for longitudinal studies to describe complex patterns of reform initiatives.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2019

Reinout Kleinhans, Nick Bailey and Jessica Lindbergh

Community-based social enterprises (CBSEs), a spatially defined subset of social enterprise, are independent, not-for-profit organisations managed by community members and…

Abstract

Purpose

Community-based social enterprises (CBSEs), a spatially defined subset of social enterprise, are independent, not-for-profit organisations managed by community members and committed to delivering long-term benefits to local people. CBSEs respond to austerity and policy reforms by providing services, jobs and other amenities for residents in deprived communities, thus contributing to neighbourhood regeneration. This paper aims to develop a better understanding of how CBSEs perceive accountability, how they apply it in the management and representation of their business and why.

Design/methodology/approach

Nine case studies of CBSEs across three European countries (England, the Netherlands and Sweden) are analysed, using data from semi-structured interviews with initiators, board members and volunteers in CBSEs.

Findings

CBSEs shape accountability and representation in response to the needs of local communities and in the wake of day-to-day challenges and opportunities. Apart from financial reporting, CBSEs apply informal strategies of accountability which are highly embedded in their way of working and contingent upon their limited resources.

Originality/value

Although research has shown the complex governance position of CBSEs, their application of accountability to target communities and other stakeholders is unclear. The paper coins the term “adaptive accountability,” reflecting a relational, dialectic approach in which formal, costly accountability methods are only applied to legally required forms of accounting, and informal practices are accepted by funding agencies and governments as valid forms of accountability, assessing CBSEs’ societal value in more open terms.

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