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Article

Carolyn Cordery, Rachel Baskerville and Brenda Porter

This paper seeks to analyse accountability relationships developed since the introduction of reforms requiring nonprofit primary health organisations (PHOs) to discharge…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyse accountability relationships developed since the introduction of reforms requiring nonprofit primary health organisations (PHOs) to discharge holistic accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

Case study data were obtained principally through semi‐structured interviews with PHOs and their key stakeholders, observation of formal and informal meetings, and primary and secondary documents.

Findings

While government strategy requires these PHOs to discharge holistic accountability, prior hierarchical‐based practices linger. A major impediment to securing holistic accountability is the failure of the new strategy to define clearly how the funder and provider should share accountability for improving their community's health. The implementation of holistic accountability was retarded when funders' propensity to control outcomes coincided with providers' lack of enthusiasm for embracing a greater range of stakeholders. The history and structure of individual PHOs was a key indicator of whether they discharged hierarchical or holistic accountability.

Research limitations/implications

This case study research is context‐specific and may have limited applicability to other PHOs or jurisdictions. However, the study shows that when funders and providers build trust rather than depending on control, holistic accountability relationships can be developed.

Practical implications

Despite government intention that primary health care relationships will lead to holistic accountability, this will not occur until funders clearly define responsibilities and trust their service providers.

Originality/value

There is a paucity of research into government‐sponsored holistic accountability relationships with local nonprofit service providers. This research provides a unique contextual analysis of the perspectives of funders, providers and a wide group of stakeholders and the operationalisation of two different styles of accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article

Johanna Andersson and Ewa Wikström

The purpose of this paper is to analyse how accounts of collaboration practice were made and used to construct accountability in the empirical context of coordination…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse how accounts of collaboration practice were made and used to construct accountability in the empirical context of coordination associations, a Swedish form of collaboration between four authorities in health and social care. They feature pooled budgets, joint leadership and joint reporting systems, intended to facilitate both collaboration and (shared) accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical data were collected in field observations in local, regional and national settings. In addition, the study is based on analysis of local association documents such as evaluations and annual reports, and analysis of national agency reports.

Findings

Accountability is constructed hierarchically with a narrow focus on performance, and horizontal (shared) accountability as well as outcomes are de-emphasised. Through this narrow construction of accountability the coordination associations are re-created as hierarchical and accountability is delegated rather than shared.

Research limitations/implications

Features such as pooled budgets, joint leadership and joint reporting systems can support collaboration but do not necessarily translate into shared accountability if accountability is interpreted and constructed hierarchically.

Practical implications

When practice conforms to what is counted and accounted for, using the hierarchical and narrow construction of accountability, the result may be that the associations become an additional authority. That would increase rather than decrease fragmentation in the field.

Originality/value

This research derives from first-hand observations of actor-to-actor episodes complemented with the analysis of documents and reports. It provides critical analysis of the construction and evaluation of accounts and accountability related to practice and performance in collaboration. The main contribution is the finding that despite the conditions intended to facilitate inter-organisational collaboration and horizontal accountability, the hierarchical accountability persisted.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

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Article

Gloria Agyemang, Brendan O’Dwyer and Jeffrey Unerman

The purpose of this paper is to offer a retrospective and prospective analysis of the themes explored in the 2006 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal special…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer a retrospective and prospective analysis of the themes explored in the 2006 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal special issue on non-governmental organisation (NGO) accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a reflective review essay.

Findings

The paper outlines how a number of themes in the 2006 special issue addressing downward accountability, hierarchical accountability and management control have been subsequently developed in a selection of papers from the accounting literature. The development of these themes leads to several suggestions for future research in NGO accountability.

Originality/value

The paper offers a systematic, original perspective on recent developments in certain areas of the field of NGO accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

Carolyn J. Fowler and Carolyn J. Cordery

The purpose of this paper is to examine changes in accountability as the provision and control of education moved from private nonprofit organisations to a public sector…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine changes in accountability as the provision and control of education moved from private nonprofit organisations to a public sector provider.

Design/methodology/approach

Analysis of nineteenth century archival documents from significant primary educational providers in a major early New Zealand settlement.

Findings

The nonprofit education provider utilised public meetings including public examinations, whose effect was to develop trust based on the education values it shared with its community of stakeholders. It also published financial reports which, along with inspections and statistical returns, were preferred once the government became the education provider. Such publications and inspections indicated bureaucracy and control. Nevertheless, government funding, rather than the nonprofit organisation’s dependence on its community, made education provision sustainable.

Research limitations/implications

It has been suggested that the differences between public sector and private sector accounting and accountability are not always sharply defined (Carnegie and Napier, 2012). However, this case study shows that a change of education provider did lead to a marked difference in accountability. While theory suggests that public sector accountability should enhance democracy, the party best meeting this brief was the nonprofit provider, with the public sector provider preferring hierarchical accountability. It could be argued that funding dependence drove these different approaches as community accountability was traded for financial security.

Originality/value

Distinctive study of accountability practices to external stakeholders, in a mid-nineteenth century education context.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article

Asya Cooley

This research paper comparatively reviews online accountability practices in public, private and nonprofit organizations, using the hospital industry as a case of analysis.

Abstract

Purpose

This research paper comparatively reviews online accountability practices in public, private and nonprofit organizations, using the hospital industry as a case of analysis.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a quantitative content analysis of 240 US hospital websites, sampled from the 2016 American Hospital Association (AHA) database. Online Accountability Practices (OAP) instrument was utilized, and it included five dimensions as follows: accessibility, engagement, performance, governance and mission.

Findings

There were statistically significant differences in online accountability practices among the three sectors. Nonprofit organizations were leading the way in their overall online accountability practices. They were more likely to score higher on engagement, performance and mission dimensions. We explain this finding through the prism of multiple accountabilities, guided by the stakeholder theory. Private organizations had the lowest scores on every online accountability dimension, except for accessibility. Consistent with previous literature, private organizations were more likely to make information accessible in the online sphere, but not necessarily meaningful or reliable for evaluating organizational performance. Public organizations had the strongest scores within the governance dimension, placing importance on disclosing organizational leadership and sharing information on their governance structures.

Research limitations/implications

This project contributes to theory building on accountability in the online environment. It argues that the distinction between two forms of accountability (functional and holistic) is applicable in the online environment, while accessibility and performance dimensions of online accountability closely align with the functional (hierarchical) form of accountability, and a more holistic approach to accountability includes dimensions like engagement, governance and mission. In addition, this project is the first of its kind to apply the stakeholder theory to accountability practices in three sectors of the economy and how the stakeholder theory provides guidance as a basis of understanding the forms of accountability (functional and holistic) that are most likely aligned with organizations in three sectors of the economy.

Practical implications

The results of this study point to a number of implications for hospital patients, families, hospital administration, healthcare professionals and policymakers. These implications can be broadly divided into two groups as follows: policy implications and management implications. Policy implications pertain to the national dialog and interorganizational deliberations of sector-wide policy to enrich accountability practices; while management implications are concerned with local, intraorganizational discussions among administrators and organizational leaders on formulating specific strategies and tactics.

Originality/value

This research paper contributes to empirical studies on organizational accountability in the online environment. It enriches our understanding of how organizations in different sectors present themselves to the public.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

Ahmad Zamri Osman and Gloria Agyemang

This paper aims to argue for the need of beneficiaries’ involvement in matters impacting them. The current effort to improve waqf management and the trend of waqf studies…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to argue for the need of beneficiaries’ involvement in matters impacting them. The current effort to improve waqf management and the trend of waqf studies seems to focus on waqf financing/investment using sophisticated financial tools and inviting participation from business entities. There was no conscious effort to engage the beneficiaries/public as the means to inform and improve the way waqf properties are managed despite it being, arguably, the primary stakeholder.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a qualitative study informed by the concept of downward accountability. Interviews with staff involved in managing waqf properties are conducted. Data is interpreted, resulting in emerging themes.

Findings

This paper argues that the way waqf entity is structured and the staff’s value is important in determining whether benefit accrues to beneficiaries. Grounded on Islamic ethos, the values of individual staff is imperative in ensuring downward accountability is discharged. The closeness and empathy between staff and beneficiaries contribute towards a meaningful operationalisation of downward accountability.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the nature of methodology focusing on specific waqf practices in two specific waqf settings, the result must be interpreted within its context.

Practical implications

Waqf entity needs to have a structure where beneficiaries are meaningfully involved.

Social implications

This paper argues that the benefit of waqf establishment may not accrue to beneficiaries if it is undertaken without their engagement.

Originality/value

This paper raises the importance of engaging beneficiaries as one of the approaches in serving them. Any future project involving the targeted beneficiaries should involve them in some capacities.

Details

Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-0817

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Article

Lukas Goretzki and Martin Messner

This paper aims to examine how managers use planning meetings to coordinate their actions in light of an uncertain future. Existing literature suggests that coordination…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine how managers use planning meetings to coordinate their actions in light of an uncertain future. Existing literature suggests that coordination under uncertainty requires a “dynamic” approach to planning, which is often realized in the form of rolling forecasts and frequent cross-functional exchange. Not so much is known, however, about the micro-level process through which coordination is achieved. This paper suggests that a sensemaking perspective and a focus on “planning talk” are particularly helpful to understand how actors come to a shared understanding of an uncertain future, based upon which they can coordinate their actions.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper builds upon a qualitative case study in the Austrian production site of an international manufacturing company. Drawing on a sensemaking perspective, the paper analyses monthly held “planning meetings” in which sales and production managers discuss sales forecasts for the coming months and talk about how to align demand and supply.

Findings

The authors show how collective sensemaking unfolds in planning meetings and highlight the role that “plausibilization” of expectations, “calculative reasoning” and “filtering” of information play in this process. This case analysis also sheds light on the challenges that such a sensemaking process may be subject to. In particular, this paper finds that competing hierarchical accountabilities may influence the collective sensemaking process and render coordination more challenging.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the hitherto limited management accounting and control literature on operational planning, especially its coordination function. It also extends the management accounting and control literature that draws on the concept of sensemaking. The study shows how actors involved in planning meetings create a common understanding of the current and future situation and what sensemaking mechanisms facilitate this process. In this respect, this paper is particularly interested in the role that accounting and other types of numbers can play in this context. Furthermore, it theorizes on the conditions that allow managers to overcome concerns with hierarchical accountabilities and enact socializing forms of accountability, which is often necessary to come to agreements on actions to be taken.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Book part

Robert D. Behn

Everyone wants accountability in education. President Bill Clinton wanted accountability in education. In his 1999 State of the Union address, the President announced “…a…

Abstract

Everyone wants accountability in education. President Bill Clinton wanted accountability in education. In his 1999 State of the Union address, the President announced “…a plan that for the first time holds states and school districts accountable for progress and rewards them for results.” Through his proposed Education Accountability Act, President Clinton sought to insist, “…all states and school districts must turn around their worst-performing schools, or shut them down” (1999, pp. 202–203).

Details

Strategies for Public Management Reform
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-218-4

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Article

Salvador Carmona and Mahmoud Ezzamel

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and critique the growing literature on record‐keeping practices in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt with a particular focus on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and critique the growing literature on record‐keeping practices in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt with a particular focus on processes of ancient accountability, and provide a research agenda for future work.

Design/methodology/approach

Analyzes the contributions of accounting historians in this area as well as the research conducted by Assyriologists and Egyptologists. Our analysis emphasizes the embeddeness of ancient processes of accounting and accountability in their wider contexts.

Findings

A framework is proposed comprising levels and spheres of accountability. The levels of accountability consist of: hierarchical; horizontal; and self, all entailing both accounting and non‐accounting elements. Furthermore, accountability is analyzed at three spheres: the individual‐state, the state‐individual, and the individual‐individual.

Originality/value

Further research in this area might examine issues such as the temporal dimension of accountability and whether more precise time measures than those reported in the extant literature were enforced in ancient economies; how the ancients dealt with differences between actual and expected measures; examination on the extent to which accountability exerted an impact on, and the role of accounting in, ordering the lives of individuals and communities; and examination of the trajectories of accounting and accountability across different historical episodes.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article

Lisa Baudot, Jesse Dillard and Nadra Pencle

Building on the research program of Dillard and Brown (2015) and Dillard and Vinnari (2019), specifically related to an “ethic of accountability,” this paper recognizes…

Abstract

Purpose

Building on the research program of Dillard and Brown (2015) and Dillard and Vinnari (2019), specifically related to an “ethic of accountability,” this paper recognizes accountability systems as key to how organizations conceptualize their responsibility to society. The objective is to explore how managers of hybrid organizations conceptualize responsibility and the role of accountability systems in their conceptualization.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper studies hybrid organizations that are for-profit entities with explicitly recognized non-economic imperatives. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with managers of organizations that pursue certification as a B-Corporation, often in conjunction with a legal designation as a benefit corporation.

Findings

Managers of the hybrid organizations evidenced a broader responsibility logic that extends beyond responsibility to shareholders. This pluralistic orientation and broader set of objectives are expressed in a set of certification standards that represent an accountability system that both enables and constrains the way responsibility is understood. The accountability system reflects a “felt” accountability to the “other” manifested, for example, as generational accountability, with the other (re)created relative to the certification standards.

Research limitations/implications

Certifications and standards represent accounting-based accountability systems that produce a type of accountability in which the certification becomes the overall objective nudging out efforts to take accountability-based accounting seriously (Dillard and Vinnari, 2019). At the same time, the hybrids under study, while not perfect exemplars, incline toward an ethic of accountability (Dillard and Brown, 2014) that moves them closer to accountability-based accounting.

Originality/value

The findings reveal perspectives of managers embedded in hybrid organizations, illustrating their experiences of responsibility and accountability systems in practice (Grossi et al., 2019). The insights can be extended to other hybrid contexts where accountability systems may be used to demonstrate multiple performance objectives. We also recognize the irony in the need for an organization to be required to attain a special license to operate in a more responsible manner.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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