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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2021

Vien Chu and Belinda Luke

This study aims to investigate how non-government organisation (NGO) managers balance accountability to donors and beneficiaries and the role of felt responsibility in…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate how non-government organisation (NGO) managers balance accountability to donors and beneficiaries and the role of felt responsibility in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

Using concepts of accountability theory, practices of microenterprise development NGOs are examined in two countries – Bangladesh and Indonesia – through interviews with managers of 20 NGOs and analysis of NGOs’ publicly available data.

Findings

Findings show a shift in emphasis from a vertical view (upward to donors and downward to beneficiaries) to a horizontal view of NGO accountability. Under this view, a selective approach to donors whose mission and approaches to poverty alleviation aligned with those of the NGOs played an essential role in supporting NGOs’ internal accountability. Further, felt a responsibility to beneficiaries is identified as an important mediator balancing both upward and downward accountability. While accountability to donors and beneficiaries was interrelated, accountability to donors was considered a short-term objective and accountability to beneficiaries was considered a long-term and overriding objective.

Originality/value

Findings contribute a further understanding of the role of felt responsibility to beneficiaries as a mediator for balancing upward and downward accountability based on the perspectives of NGO managers. Reframing accountability through a horizontal view helps to balance multiple directions of NGO accountability: to self, donors and beneficiaries.

Details

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

Keywords

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Abstract

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Managing NGOs in the Developing World
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-782-1

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Article
Publication date: 13 January 2021

Paweł Brzustewicz, Iwona Escher, Jan Hermes and Pauliina Ulkuniemi

This paper aims to examine corporate volunteering as a form of social responsibility carried out by companies in relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine corporate volunteering as a form of social responsibility carried out by companies in relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Applying the value creation concept, the success of such relationships is based on value created between the focal company, its employees engaging in the volunteer work and the collaborating NGO actors representing the beneficiaries of the volunteer work. However, how to meaningfully engage employees and strategically manage company–NGO relationships in corporate volunteering has received less scholarly attention. The study hence asks the question: How is mutual value created in corporate volunteering collaborations between business organizations and NGOs?

Design/methodology/approach

Two qualitative case studies of company–NGO relationships involved in corporate volunteer programs for social benefit in Poland and Finland are analyzed.

Findings

Corporate volunteering offers value creation opportunities for each of the three actors in the relationships, namely, the company, the NGO and the employees who participate in the volunteer work. Particularly, employment and volunteering relationships appear to be catalysts for the creation of mutual value in the organizational relationship between a company and NGO.

Originality/value

The present study contributes to the current understanding of company–NGO relationships by emphasizing the role of individual employee volunteers in creating relationship-level value. The study adds also to existing research on corporate volunteering by identifying the way value is created in company–NGO relationships within corporate volunteering.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 36 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2021

Bruno Cazenave and Jeremy Morales

Literature has widely studied the financial accountability pressures on NGOs but rarely analysed how NGOs respond to them. This paper studies one large humanitarian NGO to…

Abstract

Purpose

Literature has widely studied the financial accountability pressures on NGOs but rarely analysed how NGOs respond to them. This paper studies one large humanitarian NGO to address this question. It investigates the NGO's responses to understand the extent to which NGOs are able to regain control over their own work and turn the frames of evaluation and accountability to their own advantage.

Design/methodology/approach

This article draws on a case study of one of the largest French humanitarian NGOs. Interviews and observation (both participant and non-participant) were conducted in the financial department of the NGO. These data are supplemented with field-level contextual interviews.

Findings

In the NGO studied, institutional pressure is largely mediated by compliance audits. The paper thus traces the consequences of compliance audits for the NGO's central finance teams and describes how they respond. The findings detail three responses to evaluation. First, to respond to the burden of evaluation, the organisation makes itself auditable and develops preparedness. Second, to respond to the anxiety of evaluation, the organisation engages in a process of purification and succumbs to the allure of the single figure. Third, building on its newly acquired auditability and purity, the organisation performs itself as a “corporatised NGO”. Together, these three responses constitute the NGO as an “entrepreneur” competing for eligibility, and financial literacy and managerialism become crucial to respond to pressure from institutional funders.

Originality/value

This paper extends the understanding of organisational responses to evaluation. The authors show the influence of evaluation systems on NGOs, but also how NGOs can react to regain control over their work and turn the frames of evaluation and accountability to their own advantage. However, despite several decades of calls for broader conceptions of NGO accountability, the case NGO prefers to promote a very narrow view of its performance, based solely on accounting compliance. It takes some pride in its ability to comply with funders' and auditors' demands. Turning a simple matter of compliance into a display of good performance, it builds a strategy and competitive advantage on its ability to respond competently to evaluation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2019

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…

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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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 January 2015

Brendan O'Dwyer and Roel Boomsma

The purpose of this paper is to deepen and advance the understanding of the construction of accountability within the relationship between government funders and…

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5052

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to deepen and advance the understanding of the construction of accountability within the relationship between government funders and development non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a case study examining the process through which an influential Dutch development NGO, Oxfam Novib, constructed its own accountability while simultaneously seeking to influence shifts in government funder accountability requirements. It enrols a combination of comprehensive archival data on the Dutch government’s financing scheme for NGOs from 1965 to 2012 and in-depth interviews with Oxfam Novib managers and Dutch government officials. The co-evolution in accountability within Oxfam Novib and the government funding scheme is conceptualised using the notions of imposed, felt and adaptive accountability

Findings

The case unveils the dynamics through which accountability within a major government funding scheme for NGOs was co-constructed by Oxfam Novib and the Dutch government’s development aid department. In particular, it reveals how this process was influenced by an internal evolution in Oxfam Novib’s organisational approach to accountability and an institutional context characterised by consensus-based economic and social policy making. The case also unveils the process through which Oxfam Novib’s influence declined as more demanding, narrowly focused government accountability requirements emerged in a setting that was increasingly critical of NGOs.

Originality/value

The paper presents a rare example of a context where development NGOs have proactively sought and secured influence over the accountability demands of a key donor. It is unique in combining consideration of the internal evolution of accountability within an individual NGO (conceptualised as an evolution from felt to adaptive accountability) with a progression in the form of accountability required by governmental funders. The paper unveils the conditions under which NGO-preferred conceptions of accountability may gain (and lose) influence among key funders.

Details

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

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 10 May 2019

Miranti Kartika Dewi, Melina Manochin and Ataur Belal

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of volunteers and its impact on related accountability practices towards beneficiaries by a large humanitarian…

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2356

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of volunteers and its impact on related accountability practices towards beneficiaries by a large humanitarian non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Indonesia.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopted a qualitative case study design. The empirical evidence comes from rich fieldwork carried out in an Indonesian NGO. The authors collected the evidence mainly via 46 interviews and five focus groups.

Findings

The authors found that the case NGO drew heavily on the social and cultural capitals of volunteers in the process of serving its beneficiaries, which, in turn, facilitated the enhancement of its accountability to the beneficiaries. The authors also found that volunteers play a bridging role to reduce the distance between NGOs and beneficiaries.

Research limitations/implications

For NGO managers, this study provides necessary empirical evidence on the positive role played by the volunteers in the development and operationalisation of accountability to the beneficiaries. In the authors’ case, beneficiary accountability is enhanced by the social conduct and practices performed by the NGO’s numerous volunteers. Beneficiary accountability is of significant concern to the policy makers too. This study shows that volunteers and NGO can work in a reciprocal relationship where social and cultural capital can be mobilised to each other’s advantage. To facilitate beneficiary accountability, NGOs can draw on the socio-cultural capitals held by the volunteers who appear to share the same norms and expectations with the beneficiaries. This process can also lead to the building of social and cultural capital by the volunteers themselves as they achieve great satisfaction and gain valuable experience in this process that could lead to greater satisfaction in their spiritual and material lives.

Originality/value

The authors extend the previous literature on beneficiary accountability by highlighting the under-researched role of volunteers in such accountability practices. In this paper, the authors first discuss the facilitating role of volunteers in enhancing NGOs’ accountability towards beneficiaries. Then, this is illustrated empirically. In addition, the authors argue that although Bourdieusian concepts like field and capital have been widely used in the analysis of various organisational practices the concept of habitus received limited attention particularly from the context of developing countries. The authors undertake an examination of the habitus of volunteers in the Indonesian case organisation and explore their linkages with the field and associated capitals.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 December 2017

Ling Zhong and Karen R. Fisher

As transition countries shift to a mixed welfare system, the accountability of non-government organizations (NGOs) becomes critical to quality services. Yet, poor…

Abstract

Purpose

As transition countries shift to a mixed welfare system, the accountability of non-government organizations (NGOs) becomes critical to quality services. Yet, poor financial and managerial practices of some NGOs in China have led to distrust from citizens. The purpose of this paper is to use a democratic accountability framework to examine citizen participation in NGOs as an approach to understand an angle of this distrust. Does the Chinese language academic literature about NGO accountability engage with concepts of participation in NGO governance, management and service use?

Design/methodology/approach

The method was content analysis of a search of words and concepts relating to NGOs, participation and accountability in the available Chinese language literature on NGO accountability through the newly developed search engine Wenjin Search of the National Library of China.

Findings

The analysis found that most Chinese literature only emphasizes problems of accountability, causes and regulatory solutions. When the literature includes participation, it refers to it as a platform for civil society, rather than a process of accountability within an NGO.

Research limitations/implications

Searching by keywords in one search engine may not be exhaustive. The results probably reflect most of the current research of Chinese scholars, considering the depth of the search engine.

Practical implications

Formal NGOs are relatively new in the Chinese political landscape; and government regulations are largely administrative and unenforced. At conceptual and political levels, the absence of discussion about other forms of accountability ignores questions about public dissatisfaction with NGO performance and the public’s willingness to contribute to NGO effectiveness, and civic engagement.

Originality/value

An implication is that until Chinese NGO research also incorporates democratic accountability concepts, it will continue to ignore the internal and external drivers from citizens for NGO change. Transition country NGOs that encourage participation have the potential to engender greater accountability in the organization, community and in state relations.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 37 no. 13/14
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 30 October 2019

Sanjaya Chinthana Kuruppu and Sumit Lodhia

The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of accountability as it relates to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) evolving through a period of considerable…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of accountability as it relates to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) evolving through a period of considerable change in Sri Lanka.

Design/methodology/approach

An in-depth single case study of a large NGO working in Sri Lanka is presented. Data collection involved conducting semi-structured interviews with a range of NGO employees and stakeholders, undertaking participant and non-participant observation and document analysis.

Findings

This paper shows how accountability is a contested notion that is shaped by struggles among stakeholders within a field. The authors explore how the “widespread field” consisting of the aid context in Sri Lanka and internationally is rapidly shifting. This creates unique pressures within the “restricted field” of the case NGO and its constituents. These pressures are manifested in the contest between the different capitals held by various stakeholders to shape the NGO. The nature of access to these capitals is important in the way that the NGO is shaped by external forces, and also by the individuals within it.

Research limitations/implications

This study adds fresh perspective to the growing body of work in NGO accountability. The paper highlights the tensions NGOs face through a holistic application of a Bourdieusian conceptual framework. The authors show how the habitus of the organisation is shaped in such a way that conceptions of accountability were captured by powerful external and internal constituencies. Ultimately, the nature of an organisation’s agency is questioned.

Practical implications

The authors present a more nuanced understanding of forces which shape accountability in an NGO setting which is of practical relevance to NGOs and their stakeholders. The authors highlight the struggle for an NGO to maintain its agency through resisting external forces that impact on its operations.

Originality/value

This study presents a comprehensive and holistic application of Bourdieu’s concepts and their interactions in an organisational setting. The struggle to harness various forms of capital in the field, shapes doxa and the habitus of NGO actors, illuminating the role of symbolic violence in the creation of an organisational identity.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Rob Gray, Jan Bebbington and David Collison

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for…

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13119

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for future research work. The paper aims to explore and develop understandings of accountability specifically in the context of the NGO and then extend these insights to the accountability of all organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is framed within a theoretical conception of accountability and is primarily literature‐based. In addition secondary data relating to the issues of concern are collated and synthesised.

Findings

The research finds that the essence of accountability lies in the relationships between the organisation and the society and/or stakeholder groups of interest. The nature of this relationship allows us to infer much about the necessary formality and the channels of accountability. In turn, this casts a light upon taken‐for‐granted assumptions in the corporate accountability and reminds us that the essence and basis of success of the corporate world lies in its withdrawal from any form of human relationship and the consequential colonisation and oppression of civil society.

Research limitations/implications

The principal implications relate to: our need to improve the analytical incisiveness of our applications of accountability theory; and the possibility of the accounting literature offering more developed insights to the NGO literature. The primary limitations lie in the paper in being: exploratory of a more developed understanding of accountability; and a novel excursion into the world of the NGO and civil society – neither of which feature greatly in the accounting literature.

Practical implications

These lie in the current political struggles between civil society and capital over appropriate forms of accountability. Corporations continue to avoid allowing themselves to be held accountable whilst civil society organisations are often accountable in many different and informal ways. Ill‐considered calls from capital for more oppressive NGO accountability are typically, therefore, hypocritical and inappropriate.

Originality/value

NGOs are introduced in a detailed and accessible way to the accounting literature. The concept of accountability is further developed by examination of relationships and channels in the context of the NGO and, through Rawls' notion of “closeness”, is further enriched.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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