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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2020

Ciaran Connolly, Noel Hyndman and Mariannunziata Liguori

This paper seeks to explore the way charity accountants understand, interpret and legitimate or delegitimate the introduction of accounting and reporting changes (embedded…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore the way charity accountants understand, interpret and legitimate or delegitimate the introduction of accounting and reporting changes (embedded in the extant charity statement of recommended practice), before these are actually implemented.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on 21 semi-structured interviews with accountants in large UK and Republic of Ireland charities, the manner and extent to which forthcoming changes in charity accounting are legitimated (justified) or delegitimated (criticised) is explored.

Findings

Acceptance of accounting changes in the charity sector by formal regulation may not be necessary for future required adjustments to practice to be legitimated. Using interviews carried out before the implementation of required changes, the results suggest that other factors, such as national culture, identity and mimetic behaviours, may play a major role in the homogenisation and acceptance of accounting and reporting rules. In particular, it is argued that mimetic pressures can be much more influential than regulative pressures in legitimating change in the charity sector and are more likely to lead to the embedding of change.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, it explores rhetoric and legitimation strategies used before changes are actually implemented. Second, it contributes to filling a gap in charities’ research related to intra-organisational legitimation of managerial and accounting changes, illustrating institutional-field identity at work to preserve shared organisational values and ideas. Finally, the research illuminates the importance of particular contextual pressures and individual legitimation arguments during accounting-change processes.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 February 2018

Noel Hyndman and Mariannunziata Liguori

The purpose of this paper is to focus on strategies and “spoken discourses” used to construct legitimation around change at the individual level. Comparing changes in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on strategies and “spoken discourses” used to construct legitimation around change at the individual level. Comparing changes in financial accounting, budgeting and performance management at two government levels (Westminster and Scotland), it explores the use of legitimation strategies in the implementation of accounting change and its perceived outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on semi-structured interviews, six legitimation/delegitimation strategies are used to code the transcribed data. Patterns with the perceived outcomes of change are explored.

Findings

Changes introduced to enhance “rational” decision making are often received as pushed by some source of authority. Regardless of the interviewees’ background and level, the results suggest that for radical accounting change to embed, it is necessary for it to be perceived as rational, rather than merely driven by authorisation-based pressures. Conversely, incremental change is associated with modest legitimation via rationalisation and delegitimation based on pathos and rationalisation.

Research limitations/implications

The study deals with actors’ legitimation strategies and perceptions of change. These may not correspond to actual substantial change. Taken-for-granted ideas often remain “under the radar”, therefore care must be taken in interpreting the results. The focus of the empirical study is on the UK, therefore conclusions are restricted to this context.

Originality/value

Existing studies struggle to explain organisations’ heterogeneity and practice variation; this study sheds light on how individual legitimation, which may lead to different organisational results, occurs. Differences in how actors interpret changes may be based on their position (central vs devolved administration) and on their ownership of the changes.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The study contributes to the literature on public value and performance examining politicians’ and managers’ perspectives by investigating the importance they attach to…

Abstract

Purpose

The study contributes to the literature on public value and performance examining politicians’ and managers’ perspectives by investigating the importance they attach to the different facets of performance information (i.e. budgetary, accrual based- and non-financial information (NFI)).

Design/methodology/approach

We survey politicians and managers in all Italian municipalities of at least 80,000 inhabitants.

Findings

Overall, NFI is more appreciated than financial information (FI). Moreover, budgetary accounting is preferred to accrual accounting. Politicians’ and managers’ preferences are generally aligned.

Research limitations/implications

NFI as a measure of public value is not alternative, but rather complementary, to FI. The latter remains a fundamental element of public sector accounting due to its role in resource allocation and control.

Practical implications

The preference for NFI over FI and of budgetary over accruals accounting suggests that the current predominant emphasis on (accrual-based) financial reporting might be misplaced.

Originality/value

Public value and performance are multi-faceted concepts. They can be captured by different types of information and evaluated according to different criteria, which will also depend on the category of stakeholders or users who assesses public performance. So far, most literature has considered the financial and non-financial facets of performance as virtually separate. Similarly, in the practice, financial management tends to be decoupled from non-financial performance management. However, this research shows that only by considering their joint interactions we can achieve an accurate representation of what public value really is.

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 January 2012

Mariannunziata Liguori and Ileana Steccolini

The issue of accounting change, why and how accounting evolves through time and within specific organisational settings, has been addressed by an important body of…

3901

Abstract

Purpose

The issue of accounting change, why and how accounting evolves through time and within specific organisational settings, has been addressed by an important body of literature. This paper aims to explain why, in processes of accounting change, organisations confronting similar environmental pressures show different outcomes of change.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on archetype theory, the paper analyses the case of two Italian local governments. Comparative case studies were carried out, reconstructing a period of 15 years.

Findings

Although confronted with similar environmental pressures, the two cases show two different patterns of accounting change, where only one case is able to finally reach radical change. Accounting change can be prompted by external stimuli, but, once the change is prompted, the outcomes of the change are explained by the dynamics of intra‐organisational conditions.

Originality/value

The study contributes to accounting change literature by adopting an approach (i.e. archetype theory) that overcomes some of the limitations of previous studies in explaining variations in organisational change. Through this, the authors are able to explain different outcomes and paces of accounting change and point out the intra‐organisational factors also affecting them in the presence of similar environmental pressures. A specification of the theoretical framework in a particular setting is also provided.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 March 2010

Daniela Cristofoli, Angelo Ditillo, Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of…

1878

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of such control choices.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents the results of a multiple case study based on the experiences of three cities and three public services (transport, solid waste collection and home care services for the elderly), where control mechanisms and their possible antecedents were analyzed.

Findings

The results show that the control models found in the cases analyzed do not correspond to the “pure” patterns described in the private sector literature and that the factors identified by management control contributions do not seem to be exhaustive in explaining the configuration of control systems in the public sector. While environmental and task characteristics only partially explain the adoption of certain configurations of control, the features of the control systems seem to be rather influenced by variables that are related to party characteristics.

Originality/value

The paper shows that the combinations of control mechanisms are more multifaceted than those presented in the literature, and that the factors identified in the private sector literature do not seem to explain comprehensively the configuration of control systems in the public sector.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 May 2009

Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the new public management (NPM) literature by investigating how politicians and managers perceive their relationships and…

1321

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the new public management (NPM) literature by investigating how politicians and managers perceive their relationships and respective roles during the accounting cycle and using multiple cases of Italian local government (LGs).

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on public administration and public management literature, the paper depicts models of interaction between managers and politicians through the analysis of the cases of five Departments in three Italian LGs.

Findings

Results show that, in contrast with NPM claims, no model of neat separation between politicians and managers can be depicted in the analyzed cases. Rather, alternatively patterns of sequential or reciprocal integration emerge, together with some cases of “confusion”.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed in order to investigate the factors that can explain the types of interactions and roles.

Originality/value

The paper fills the gap in NPM literature that gives scant importance to the political dimension and its relationship with management in public organizations. It addresses the diversity in the perceptions of politicians and managers as to their roles and relationships.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

Article
Publication date: 4 December 2018

Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to reflect various pathways for public sector accounting and accountability research in a post-new public management (NPM) context.

3630

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect various pathways for public sector accounting and accountability research in a post-new public management (NPM) context.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first discusses the relationship between NPM and public sector accounting research. It then explores the possible stimuli that inter-disciplinary accounting scholars may derive from recent public administration studies, public policy and societal trends, highlighting possible ways to extend public sector accounting research and strengthen dialogue with other disciplines.

Findings

NPM may have represented a golden age, but also a “golden cage,” for the development of public sector accounting research. The paper reflects possible ways out of this golden cage, discussing future avenues for public sector accounting research. In doing so, it highlights the opportunities offered by re-considering the “public” side of accounting research and shifting the attention from the public sector, seen as a context for public sector accounting research, to publicness, as a concept central to such research.

Originality/value

The paper calls for stronger engagement with contemporary developments in public administration and policy. This could be achieved by looking at how public sector accounting accounts for, but also impacts on, issues of wider societal relevance, such as co-production and hybridization of public services, austerity, crises and wicked problems, the creation and maintenance of public value and democratic participation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Giuseppe Grossi and Ileana Steccolini

– The purpose of this viewpoint paper is to introduce the special issue and outline its major themes.

1178

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this viewpoint paper is to introduce the special issue and outline its major themes.

Design/methodology/approach

The public governance literature is described, and the necessity for analysing challenges for accountability and accounting in the public sector is elaborated upon, as a precursor to introducing the contributions to this special issue.

Findings

The public governance turn in public management and policy studies has often meant that accounting and accountability issues have been overlooked. This special issue reminds us that they are central in public governance and networks, and that accounting cannot be dismissed as only a “technical” issue since it is central in power relationships, building trust, ensuring transparency and improving decision making for both internal and external stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

This special issue of Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management aims to stimulate qualitative research on how accounting and accountability are being shaped by the new public governance paradigm and, in turn, contribute to shaping it.

Practical implications

The articles included in this special issue focus on reforms and innovations that have been adopted based on the assumption that improving mechanisms of public governance and accountability will result in better public sector performance. The different aspects of governance and accounting changes will also be of interest to politicians, managers, citizens, and those who seek accountability from public sector organisations.

Originality/value

The paper offers a systematic empirical examination of the innovative experiences of different governments to strengthen transparency, openness and participation, and to enhance the capacity to manage, steer and monitor contracts, partnerships and relationships with private and public sector entities.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 June 2014

Enrico Bracci

The aim of the paper is to illustrate the changing structure of accountability under a new public governance agenda introduced in England to deliver social care through…

1275

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the paper is to illustrate the changing structure of accountability under a new public governance agenda introduced in England to deliver social care through personal budgets.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on accountability and public governance literature, in particular, the accountability framework proposed by Hupe and Hill. The evidence was gathered from exploratory case studies conducted in two English County Councils.

Findings

The introduction of personal budgets has modified the roles of the different actors involved in the co-production of social services. The case studies evidence changes in the accountability and governance process, particularly with respect to the personal budget regime that has devolved responsibility and accountability to the customer. Specifically, the customer's role has shifted and expanded in the accountability chain and thus developed into a partnership.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first to analyse the relationship between the personalisation agenda in English social services and the relevant accountability mechanisms involved. Moreover, the paper refines the theoretical framework proposed by Hupe and Hill according to the different role the public now plays.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

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