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Article
Publication date: 3 June 2021

Jan van Helden, Pawan Adhikari and Chamara Kuruppu

A review of papers on public sector accounting in emerging economies, as published in the Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies' (JAEE) first decade.

Abstract

Purpose

A review of papers on public sector accounting in emerging economies, as published in the Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies' (JAEE) first decade.

Design/methodology/approach

A reflection on the issues covered and achievements made in the reviewed papers in the context of extant knowledge in this domain.

Findings

A majority of the research in JAEE is dominated by accounting reforms inspired by New Public Management (NPM). Performance management, budgeting and accrual accounting are the main topics in the reviewed research. NPM claims, which can range from usability and use of a new accounting repertoire to desirable impacts on efficiency and service delivery, are often not fulfilled. Many papers attempt to explain failing accounting innovations by the local context in which they are embedded, including political instability, poor governance and a lack of capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reviews research in a niche journal, but the findings are related to wider public sector accounting literature.

Practical implications

Public sector practitioners, but also researchers, need to move away from a focus on public sector reforms due to contextual circumstances leading to built-in failures and concentrate instead on understanding how the accounting repertoire works in practice, including routes for improvements therein.

Originality/value

An original framework for analysing public sector accounting research in emerging economies is proposed, which, among others, distinguishes between various ambition levels for achieving NPM reforms.

Details

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-1168

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2018

Jan van Helden and Christoph Reichard

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether and how evolving ideas about management control (MC) emerge in research about public sector performance management (PSPM).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether and how evolving ideas about management control (MC) emerge in research about public sector performance management (PSPM).

Design/methodology/approach

This is a literature review on PSPM research through using a set of key terms derived from a review of recent developments in MC.

Findings

MC research, originating in the management accounting discipline, is largely disconnected from PSPM research as part of public administration and public management disciplines. Overlaps between MC and PSPM research are visible in a cybernetic control approach, control variety and contingency-based reasoning. Both academic communities share an understanding of certain issues, although under diverging labels, especially enabling controls or, in a more general sense, usable performance controls, horizontal controls and control packaging. Specific MC concepts are valuable for future PSPM research, i.e. trust as a complement of performance-based controls in complex settings, and strategy as a variable in contingency-based studies.

Research limitations/implications

Breaking the boundaries between two currently remote research disciplines, on the one hand, might dismantle “would-be” innovations in one of these disciplines, and, on the other hand, may provide a fertile soil for mutual transfer of knowledge. A limitation of the authors’ review of PSPM research is that it may insufficiently cover research published in the public sector accounting journals, which could be an outlet for MC-inspired PSPM research.

Originality/value

The paper unravels the “apparent” and “real” differences between MC and PSPM research, and, in doing so, takes the detected “real” differences as a starting point for discussing in what ways PSPM research can benefit from MC achievements.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 28 June 2016

Jan van Helden and Christoph Reichard

An examination of the commonalities and differences between performance management practices in the public and private sector.

Abstract

Purpose

An examination of the commonalities and differences between performance management practices in the public and private sector.

Methodology/approach

A literature review of 100 publications in international academic journals over the last 20 years.

Findings

The chapter develops a framework which links the dimensions of the public/private-distinction (ownership, funding, control and type of goals) to the design and use of performance management systems (PMS). This framework subsequently informs a literature review, which can be summarised as follows: Multi-dimensionality of the PMS is core in both public and private sector organisations, but quite many private sector papers point to a financial focus at the top of the PMS, while public sector organisations show a broad variety of performance indicators, including those on societally relevant goals. In addition, a link between the PMS and strategies can be found in the public and the private sector, but the match between different strategies and PMS design is more elaborated in the private sector. These findings are largely in accordance with our expectations. The review also finds support for the assumption that performance information in public sector organisations is primarily used for external accountability reasons, while internal managerial control is the main purpose in private firms. The use of performance information is quite intensive and mostly functional in both sectors, which does not meet our expectations. Overall, the differences between performance management practices in the public and private sector are less stringent than expected.

Research limitations

Due to limited evidence about the importance of performance-related pay systems and no evidence about targeting in both sectors, a more focused literature review on these issues would be desirable.

Practical implications

Mutual learning between both sectors, for example the public sector can learn from the private sector on how to link strategy to the PMS and the private sector can learn from the public sector about serving a multitude of stakeholders in the PMS.

Originality/value

A comprehensive review of performance management practices in the public and private sector.

Details

Performance Measurement and Management Control: Contemporary Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-915-2

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 14 November 2019

Jan van Helden and Christoph Reichard

The purpose of this paper is to dismantle the complex issue of “use of accounting information (AI)” by pointing to different groups of information users, diverging…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to dismantle the complex issue of “use of accounting information (AI)” by pointing to different groups of information users, diverging interests and needs of these user groups and various influential factors on the usability and the actual use of AI.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper includes a literature review and conceptual reflections.

Findings

The review of recently published articles on the issue of “use of accounting information” presents an actual picture of the academic debate on purposes of use, user types, needs of various user groups and factors influencing the usability and the actual use of AI. The subsequent conceptual reflections deal with so far less regarded user groups, with options to strengthen the user perspective in budgeting and financial reporting, with approaches for engaging users in the content of accounting documents, with interrelations between user needs, usability and use intensity, including various antecedents of the different variables of the information-use issue.

Research limitations/implications

This paper presents promising routes for future research.

Practical implications

The paper emphasizes the importance of paying more attention to the specific information needs and the motivations of various stakeholder groups generally interested in using financial information.

Originality/value

The paper presents results of reviewing recent literature on the issue of “use of accounting information” and provides some insight into specific aspects of this issue.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 31 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1979

G. Jan van Helden

Aims to show how interview data may be used to obtain an indication of the price elasticity of household electricity consumption. Examines how respondents think they will…

Abstract

Aims to show how interview data may be used to obtain an indication of the price elasticity of household electricity consumption. Examines how respondents think they will react to price changes.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 April 2014

Henk J. ter Bogt and G. Jan van Helden

This paper aims to discuss the question of how the possible gaps between academic and practical accounting research can be reduced and how academics could make a…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss the question of how the possible gaps between academic and practical accounting research can be reduced and how academics could make a contribution to solving the practical problems of organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

A reflection on Van de Ven and Johnson's ideas about “engaged scholarship” as a way for overcoming the gap between academic and practical knowledge creation, illustrated with examples coming from public sector accounting research.

Findings

Although academic consultant/researchers, who conduct research of direct relevance to practice, ideally must have research objectives in mind that go beyond the practical problems of the organization in order to address academically relevant goals, this is often not feasible. This is due to the fact that academically relevant research questions can often only be identified when a practice-oriented research project has already taken shape. The authors argue and illustrate that a pragmatic form of engaged scholarship in public sector accounting research implies that such research results in a variety of outputs. Some of the outputs will have direct relevance to the practitioners and others to the academics involved, whilst the outputs that are relevant to each of these two groups will only partly show connections and overlaps.

Practical implications

The preoccupation of academic researchers with publications in high-ranking journals, due to pressures from their universities and peer groups, threatens research projects with a potential relevance for practice, because their publication opportunities are uncertain in advance. The authors welcome researchers who want to take this type of risk, and the authors challenge university officials and journal editors to broaden their view on excellence in research beyond the scope of their traditional academic domains.

Originality/value

The paper offers a realistic way out of serving two seemingly different research goals, practice-relevance and academic rigour.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2012

Henk ter Bogt and Jan van Helden

The purpose of this paper is to present and analyze the opinions of a number of editors of accounting journals on the value they attach to the practical relevance of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present and analyze the opinions of a number of editors of accounting journals on the value they attach to the practical relevance of management accounting research and the potential role of qualitative methods in conducting this type of research.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper collects together commentaries from these journal editors about the theme indicated above, together with an overview and reflections by the editors of this special issue.

Findings

The journal editors do not regard a lack of practical relevance in management accounting research as a key concern. Most of them see practice‐relevance and theoretical advancement as complementary, while the latter is given by far the most weight as the core of academic work. Furthermore, most journal editors have no clear preference for either qualitative or quantitative research in relation to the practical relevance issue. Neither do they seem to have strong opinions about the specific benefits of qualitative methods in practice‐relevant studies. In their commentaries, the editors of this special issue advocate a stronger connection between the needs of practitioners and the content of the research, more interventionist research in which practitioners and researchers work together, and a greater focus on communication between academics and practitioners about the practical implications of management accounting research. The special issue editors specifically emphasize the importance of this communication in relation to safeguarding the “support” of various groups in society for academic research.

Practical implications

The paper contributes to the ongoing debate about the practical relevance of management accounting research, and particularly to the role of qualitative methods in practice‐relevant studies.

Originality/value

By collecting and analyzing the opinions of editors of several prominent accounting journals on the practice‐relevance of the research in this field, a contribution is made to the ongoing debate about this issue.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2012

Jan van Helden, Anders Grönlund, Riccardo Mussari and Pasquale Ruggiero

The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons why public sector managers approach either consultants or academics for their help in solving problems related to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons why public sector managers approach either consultants or academics for their help in solving problems related to public sector accounting and management reforms.

Design/methodology/approach

A field study based on reactions to real‐life constructs and answers to questions about the experiences of public sector managers in Italian, Dutch and Swedish central government agencies.

Findings

Public sector managers approach consultants, due to their experience‐based knowledge, for solving well‐defined practical and technical problems. In the case of tacit knowledge, a strong interaction between the public sector manager and the consultant, denoted as socialization, is the typical way of knowledge transfer. In accordance with expectations, public sector managers approach academics for advice regarding value‐laden problems in their organization. However, academics also give advice about practical and technical issues, usually being the primary domain of consultants, but often when impartial advice is required. Although the authors expected academics to transfer knowledge rather detached from their clients (interiorization), this was not corroborated, because often academics work closely with their counterparts in the client organization.

Research limitations/implications

The theoretical framework was helpful in explaining the role of consultants, but it required refinement in explaining the role of academics as external experts.

Practical implications

The paper contributes to a better articulated set of preferences of public sector managers in asking advice from either a consultant or an academic.

Originality/value

The paper offers a simultaneous and systematic empirical examination of the roles that consultants and academics play in public sector management and accounting reforms.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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