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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 27 July 2020

Ericka Costa and Michele Andreaus

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the multidimensional nature of social and nonprofit organisations' accountability and performance measurement systems (PMSs)…

1546

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the multidimensional nature of social and nonprofit organisations' accountability and performance measurement systems (PMSs). It further considers how these systems help in defining outcome performance indicators downward to beneficiaries

Design/methodology/approach

The paper discusses participatory action research (PAR) within an Italian social enterprise. In order to increase dialogue, participation and engagement, the researchers adopted focus groups as a preferred method of investigation and conducted a broad documental analysis from July 2016 to March 2018. The paper discusses the gathered data in light of the social impact value chain as well as the multiple-constituency approach.

Findings

The findings support the idea that social and nonprofit organisations lack the expertise and resources to evaluate outcomes and impact; however, through PAR, the organisation defined their desired outcomes and ascertained which internal output measures were most likely to be correlated with these outcomes. Moreover, the findings highlight that nonprofits develop outcome measurements less frequently because they have more control over their immediate activities and outputs.

Practical implications

This research suggests the need to reinforce lateral and downward accountability based on mission and mission-based activities in order to make the performance management system of social and nonprofit organisation linked to the organisational strategies.

Originality/value

This paper innovates methodologically in two directions: 1) it adopts action research as a qualitative method, allowing the researcher to generate solutions to collectively-identified problems and 2) the paper's arguments are strongly supported by rich empirical exploration that occurred over a period of 20 months in an Italian social enterprise.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 33 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 July 2018

Ericka Costa, Caterina Pesci, Michele Andreaus and Emanuele Taufer

Drawing on the phenomenological concepts of “empathy” and “communal emotions” developed by Edith Stein (1917, 1922), the purpose of this paper is to discuss the…

1171

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on the phenomenological concepts of “empathy” and “communal emotions” developed by Edith Stein (1917, 1922), the purpose of this paper is to discuss the co-existence both of the legitimacy and accountability perspectives in voluntarily delivered social and environmental reporting (SER), based on different “levels of empathy” towards different stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts an interpretive research design, drawn from Stein’s concept of empathy by using a mixed-method approach. A manual content analysis was performed on 393 cooperative banks’ (CB) social and environmental reports from 2005 to 2013 in Italy, and 14 semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The results show that CBs voluntarily disclose information in different ways to different stakeholders. According to Stein, the phenomenological concept of empathy, and its understanding within institutions, allows us to interpret these multiple perspectives within a single social and environmental report. Therefore, when the process of acquiring knowledge in the CB–stakeholder relationship is complete and mentalised (level 3, re-enactive empathy), the SER holds high informative power, consistent with the accountability perspective; on the contrary, when this process is peripheral and perceptional (level 1, basic empathy), the SER tends to provide more self-assessment information, attempting to portray the bank in a positive light, which is consistent with the legitimacy perspective.

Originality/value

The concept of empathy introduced in this paper can assist in interpreting the interactions between an organisation and different stakeholders within the same social and environmental report. Moreover, the approach adopted in this paper considers different stakeholders simultaneously, thus responding to previous concerns regarding the lack of focus on multiple stakeholders.

Details

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

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 1 March 2021

Michele Andreaus, Leonardo Rinaldi, Caterina Pesci and Andrea Girardi

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of accountability in times of exception. The Italian government's account-giving practices are critically analysed with…

1389

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of accountability in times of exception. The Italian government's account-giving practices are critically analysed with respect to the distinct modes in which duties of accountability are discharged for the exceptional measures taken during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in early 2020.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on an exploratory case study. The case analysis draws primarily on data obtained through publicly available documents and covers the period between January 1 and August 7, 2020.

Findings

The paper reveals that the Italian government employed various accountability styles (rebuttal, dismissal, reactive, proactive and coactive). Each style influenced both how the government justified its conduct and how it sought to form distinctive relationships with social actors.

Originality/value

The paper uses the notion of “styles of accountability” to empirically illustrate how an unprecedented public governance challenge can reveal broader accountability trends. The paper contributes to accountability research by elucidating how governments tackle ambiguity and uncertainty in their systems of public accountability in extraordinary times.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 October 2018

Thomas Schneider and Michele Andreaus

In 1950, the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) was given a perpetual water license for a large section of Northern British Columbia, Canada. The benefit to the original…

Abstract

Purpose

In 1950, the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) was given a perpetual water license for a large section of Northern British Columbia, Canada. The benefit to the original owner of the water rights, the Province of British Columbia, was economic and population growth. The purpose of this paper is to follow the contestation over these rights from 1948 to 2016.

Design/methodology/approach

An institutional logics perspective was taken to analyze the main actors and how their relative power (dominant versus fringe) changed in the institutional field. Archival data and selected interviews were mapped to institutional logics across three time periods.

Findings

In the inter-temporal setting, many of the actors that were fringe in 1950 became more dominant by 2016. For example, the local indigenous peoples, the Cheslatta Carrier First Nation, were flooded off their land to make way for Alcan’s dam. They ended up as very powerful players in the institutional field. The perpetual rights given to Alcan made it a dominant actor across all time periods, despite changes in the logics of the institutional field.

Research limitations/implications

A single case was studied; other comparative settings should be explored to contrast and compare. The data were primarily archival, supplemented by only three interviews of those related to the case study. This case study is also one where water rights were privatized in perpetuity, which may not be the case in other settings.

Practical implications

Current governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should use this case to understand the long-term effects of resource policy decisions.

Social implications

The building of large dams has been, and continues to be, used worldwide to provide power to create economic growth. Our setting provides insight into the long-term societal outcomes of using water rights in this way.

Originality/value

This is an original use of institutional logics around a natural resource-based institutional field. Using institutional logics in a multi-period setting, focusing on the power relations of the key actors, and how they can be constrained by historical forces, provides a contribution to the literature.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 9 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2014

Michele Andreaus and Ericka Costa

By contributing to the burgeoning debate regarding “for what” nonprofit organizations should be accountable, this article aims to develop and present an Integrated…

Abstract

Purpose

By contributing to the burgeoning debate regarding “for what” nonprofit organizations should be accountable, this article aims to develop and present an Integrated Accountability Model (IAM) that considers three dimensions of accountability.

Methodology/approach

After highlighting the limits of conventional accounting for NPOs and reframing the role of profit within them, the article presents a complete literature review on “to whom” and “for what” NPOs have to be accountable while further developing the IAM of integrated accountability.

Findings

The integrated accountability model developed in this article proposes three categories of NPO accountability: (i) the economic and financial dimension or the capability/ability to be economically sustainable in the long term; (ii) the mission-related dimension or the raison d’être of an NPO, that is, the purpose for which the NPO has been set up, its mission; and (iii) the social-related dimension or the relationship with the stakeholders, that is the impact of NPO activities on its stakeholders in terms of the social contract between them.

Originality/value

Broadly, this article makes a contribution to the literature on accountability for NPOs. In particular it sheds light on two points: the importance of separating the mission-related dimension from the social-related one and the potential to open avenues for expansion of the IAM model to for-profit organizations.

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2014

Ericka Costa, Lee D. Parker and Michele Andreaus

Within the accounting discipline and its literature, attention to the role of social and non-profit organizations has been growing, particularly with respect to issues of…

Abstract

Within the accounting discipline and its literature, attention to the role of social and non-profit organizations has been growing, particularly with respect to issues of accountability and social accounting. In response, the aim of this introductory article is to present the background for the book by highlighting (i) the relevance and rise of the non-profit sector worldwide, (ii) the limitations of the conventional accounting framework when applied/transposed to NPOs and (iii) the ‘social accounting project’ for NPOs. The article presents analysis and critique based on a literature review of the accountability framework for NPOs. After presenting key worldwide statistics regarding the growing non-profit sector, the article points out the skepticism regarding the adoption of traditional accounting principles and frameworks for NPOs. The article offers both an examination of how to improve the accounting system for NPOs and a discussion of the benefits emerging from the social and environmental accounting and reporting models. ‘The social accounting project’ for NPOs is presented as a pathway towards these innovative practices increasing organizational transparency. This article and the book overall provide new contributions to the research literature, fostering synergies among financial accounting and social accounting scholars engaging with the NPO subject area. Moreover it brings together studies from a range of disciplines, such as financial accounting, social accounting, economics, management, and third-sector studies. This cross-disciplinary approach offers a major contribution to our developing knowledge in this field.

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

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