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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 18 December 2020

Maureen Alice Flynn and Niamh M. Brennan

While clinical governance is assumed to be part of organisational structures and policies, implementation of clinical governance in practice (the praxis) can be markedly…

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2662

Abstract

Purpose

While clinical governance is assumed to be part of organisational structures and policies, implementation of clinical governance in practice (the praxis) can be markedly different. This paper draws on insights from hospital clinicians, managers and governors on how they interpret the term “clinical governance”. The influence of best-practice and roles and responsibilities on their interpretations is considered.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on 40 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with hospital clinicians, managers and governors from two large academic hospitals in Ireland. The analytical lens for the research is practice theory. Interview transcripts are analysed for practitioners' spoken keywords/terms to explore how practitioners interpret the term “clinical governance”. The practice of clinical governance is mapped to front line, management and governance roles and responsibilities.

Findings

The research finds that interpretation of clinical governance in praxis is quite different from best-practice definitions. Practitioner roles and responsibilities held influence practitioners' interpretation.

Originality/value

The research examines interpretations of clinical governance in praxis by clinicians, managers and governors and highlights the adverse consequence of the absence of clear mapping of roles and responsibilities to clinical, management and governance practice.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 23 December 2021

Victoria C. Edgar, Niamh M. Brennan and Sean Bradley Power

Taking a communication perspective, the paper explores management's rhetoric in profit warnings, whose sole purpose is to disclose unexpected bad news.

Abstract

Purpose

Taking a communication perspective, the paper explores management's rhetoric in profit warnings, whose sole purpose is to disclose unexpected bad news.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting a close-reading approach to text analysis, the authors analyse three profit warnings of the now-collapsed Carillion, contrasting the rhetoric with contemporaneous investor conference calls to discuss the profit warnings and board minutes recording boardroom discussions of the case company's precarious financial circumstances. The analysis applies an Aristotelian framework, focussing on logos (appealing to logic and reason), ethos (appealing to authority) and pathos (appealing to emotion) to examine how Carillion's board and management used language to persuade shareholders concerning the company's adverse circumstances.

Findings

As non-routine communications, the language in profit warnings displays and mimics characteristics of routine communications by appealing primarily to logos (logic and reason). The rhetorical profiles of investor conference calls and board meeting minutes differ from profit warnings, suggesting a different version of the story behind the scenes. The authors frame the three profit warnings as representing three stages of communication as follows: denial, defiance and desperation and, for our case company, ultimately, culminating in defeat.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to the study of profit warnings in one case company.

Originality/value

The paper views profit warnings as a communication artefact and examines the rhetoric in these corporate documents to elucidate their key features. The paper provides novel insights into the role of profit warnings as a corporate communication vehicle/genre delivering bad news.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 24 August 2021

Maureen Alice Flynn and Niamh M. Brennan

The paper examines interviewee insights into accountability for clinical governance in high-consequence, life-and-death hospital settings. The analysis draws on the…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper examines interviewee insights into accountability for clinical governance in high-consequence, life-and-death hospital settings. The analysis draws on the distinction between formal “imposed accountability” and front-line “felt accountability”. From these insights, the paper introduces an emergent concept, “grounded accountability”.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews are conducted with 41 clinicians, managers and governors in two large academic hospitals. The authors ask interviewees to recall a critical clinical incident as a focus for elucidating their experiences of and observation on the practice of accountability.

Findings

Accountability emerges from the front-line, on-the-ground. Together, clinicians, managers and governors co-construct accountability. Less attention is paid to cost, blame, legal processes or personal reputation. Money and other accountability assumptions in business do not always apply in a hospital setting.

Originality/value

The authors propose the concept of co-constructed “grounded accountability” comprising interrelationships between the concept’s three constituent themes of front-line staff’s felt accountability, along with grounded engagement by managers/governors, supported by a culture of openness.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2018

Victoria C. Edgar, Matthias Beck and Niamh M. Brennan

The UK private finance initiative (PFI) public policy is heavily criticised. PFI contracts are highly profitable leading to incentives for PFI private-sector companies to…

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2080

Abstract

Purpose

The UK private finance initiative (PFI) public policy is heavily criticised. PFI contracts are highly profitable leading to incentives for PFI private-sector companies to support PFI public policy. This contested nature of PFIs requires legitimation by PFI private-sector companies, by means of impression management, in terms of the attention to and framing of PFI in PFI private-sector company annual reports. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

PFI-related annual report narratives of three UK PFI private-sector companies, over seven years and across two periods of significant change in the development of the PFI public policy, are analysed using manual content analysis.

Findings

Results suggest that PFI private-sector companies use impression management to legitimise during periods of uncertainty for PFI public policy, to alleviate concerns, to provide credibility for the policy and to legitimise the private sector’s own involvement in PFI.

Research limitations/implications

While based on a sizeable database, the research is limited to the study of three PFI private-sector companies.

Originality/value

The portrayal of public policy in annual report narratives has not been subject to prior research. The research demonstrates how managers of PFI private-sector companies present PFI narratives in support of public policy direction that, in turn, benefits PFI private-sector companies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2017

Doris M. Merkl-Davies and Niamh M. Brennan

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework of external accounting communication in the form of a typology based on perspectives, traditions, and…

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3583

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical framework of external accounting communication in the form of a typology based on perspectives, traditions, and theories from the discipline of communication studies. The focus is accounting communication with external audiences via public written documents outside the audited financial statements, i.e., annual reports, press releases, CSR reports, websites, conference calls, etc.

Design/methodology/approach

The theoretical framework is based on two broad research perspectives on accounting communication: (A) a functionalist-behavioural transmission perspective and (B) a symbolic-interpretive narrative perspective. Eight traditions of communication research are introduced which provide alternative ways of conceptualising accounting communication, namely (1) mathematical tradition, (2) socio-psychological tradition, (3) cybernetic/systems-oriented tradition, (4) semiotic tradition, (5) rhetorical tradition, (6) phenomenological tradition, (7) socio-cultural tradition, and (8) critical tradition. Exemplars of each tradition from prior accounting research, to the extent they have been adopted, are discussed. Finally, a typology is developed, which serves as a heuristic device for viewing similarities and differences between research traditions.

Findings

Prior accounting studies predominantly focus on the role of discretionary disclosures in accounting communication in the functioning of the relationship between organisations and their audiences. Research is predominantly located in the mathematical, the socio-psychological, and the cybernetic/systems-oriented tradition. Accounting communication is primarily viewed as the transmission of messages about financial, environmental, and social information to external audiences. Prior research is mainly concerned with the communicator (e.g. CEO personality) and the message (e.g. intentions and effects of accounting communication). Research from alternative traditions is encouraged, which explores how organisations and their audiences engage in a dialogue and interactively create, sustain, and manage meaning concerning accounting and accountability issues.

Originality/value

The paper identifies, organises, and synthesises research perspectives, traditions, and associated theories from the communication studies literature in the form of a typology. The paper concludes with an extensive agenda for future research on accounting communication.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 January 2019

Niamh M. Brennan

A doctoral dissertation is a challenging undertaking requiring determination, persistence and resilience over a long time: four to six years’ study or more. These PhD…

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9462

Abstract

Purpose

A doctoral dissertation is a challenging undertaking requiring determination, persistence and resilience over a long time: four to six years’ study or more. These PhD “rules of the game” are intended to help students successfully navigate this challenge.

Design/methodology/approach

The author has assembled 100 PhD rules of the game from the author’s work over many years with masters and doctoral students. Each rule is accompanied by some further short guidance. Additional citations are included directing readers to resources embellishing the 100 PhD rules of the game.

Findings

The paper documents 100 PhD rules of the game.

Research limitations/implications

There are many other PhD rules of the game not included in the author’s list of 100 PhD rules of the game.

Originality/value

This paper is a one-stop-shop brief introduction to the author’s 100 PhD rules of the game.

Details

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

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 28 May 2019

Niamh M. Brennan

There are several basic, and at times minor, pedantic principles required to successfully publish in good-quality international peer-reviewed journals. These are what the…

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36069

Abstract

Purpose

There are several basic, and at times minor, pedantic principles required to successfully publish in good-quality international peer-reviewed journals. These are what the author calls the “rules of the game”. Many are so basic, so taken-for-granted, tacit knowledge, that at times supervisors do not tell their students about them. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The author has assembled 100 research rules of the game from her work over many years with doctoral students and early career researchers. Each rule is accompanied by short advice. Additional citations are included directing readers to further resources on the 100 research rules of the game.

Findings

The paper documents 100 research rules of the game.

Research limitations/implications

There are many other rules of the game not included in the author’s list of 100 research rules of the game.

Originality/value

This paper is a one-stop-shop brief introduction to the author’s 100 research rules of the game.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 January 2021

Sean Bradley Power and Niamh M. Brennan

A royal charter of incorporation imposing public benefit/social responsibilities established the privately owned British South Africa Company (BSAC), in return for power…

Abstract

Purpose

A royal charter of incorporation imposing public benefit/social responsibilities established the privately owned British South Africa Company (BSAC), in return for power to exploit a huge territory using low-cost local labour. This study explores the dual principal–agent problem of how the BSAC used annual report narratives to report on its conflicting economic responsibilities to investors versus its public benefit charter responsibilities to the British Crown.

Design/methodology/approach

Having digitised the dataset, the research analyses narratives from 29 BSAC annual reports spanning a continuous 35-year royal charter period, using computer-aided keyword content analysis to identify economic-orientated versus public benefit-orientated annual report narratives. The research analyses how the annual report narratives shifted according to four key contextual periods by reference to the changing influence of private investors versus the British Crown.

Findings

There are two key findings. First, economic primacy. At no point do public benefit disclosures outweigh economic disclosures. Second, the BSAC's meso-corporate context and macro-social/political context can explain patterns in public benefit disclosures. The motivation for producing public benefit information is not altruism. Rather, commercial interests motivate disclosure. The BSAC used its annual reports to sustain what proved ultimately unsustainable – royal charter-style colonialism.

Originality/value

This accounting history study contributes to an understanding of corporate narrative reporting using one of the earliest known cases of such analysis and shows how accounting plays a central role in facilitating a company in sustaining its interests. This 100-year lookback may be a portend of the future for modern-day annual report corporate social responsibility narratives in, say, mining and oil and gas company corporate reports, especially if these natural resources run out.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 October 2017

Margaret M. Cullen and Niamh M. Brennan

Boards of directors are assumed to exercise three key accountability roles – control, monitoring and oversight roles. By researching one board type – investment fund…

Abstract

Purpose

Boards of directors are assumed to exercise three key accountability roles – control, monitoring and oversight roles. By researching one board type – investment fund boards – and the power relations around those boards, the purpose of this paper is to show that such boards are not capable of operating the three key roles assumed of them.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted 25 in-depth interviews and a focus group session with investment fund directors applying a grounded theory methodology.

Findings

Because of their unique position of power, the authors find that fund promoter organisations (that establish and attract investors to the funds) exercise control and monitoring roles. As a result, contrary to prior assumptions, oversight is the primary role of investment fund boards, rather than the control role or monitoring role associated with corporate boards. The findings can be extended to other board-of-director contexts in which boards (e.g. subsidiary boards, boards of state-owned entities) have legal responsibility but limited power because of power exercised by other parties such as large shareholders.

Practical implications

Shareholders and regulators generally assume boards exercise control and monitoring roles. This can lead to an expectations gap on the part of shareholders and regulators who may not consider the practical realities in which boards operate. This expectations gap compromises the very objective of governance – investor protection.

Originality/value

Based on interviews with investment fund directors, the authors challenge the control-role theory of investment fund boards of directors. Building on our findings, and following subsequent conceptual engagement with the literature, the authors differentiate control, monitoring and oversight roles, terms which are often used interchangeably in prior research. The authors distinguish between the three terms on the basis of the level of influence implied by each.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Niamh M. Brennan and Jill Solomon

This paper aims to review traditional corporate governance and accountability research, to suggest opportunities for future research in this field.

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29472

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review traditional corporate governance and accountability research, to suggest opportunities for future research in this field.

Design/methodology/approach

The first part adopts an analytical frame of reference based on theory, accountability mechanisms, methodology, business sector/context, globalisation and time horizon. The second part of the paper locates the seven papers in the special issue in a framework of analysis showing how each one contributes to the field. The paper presents a frame of reference which may be used as a “roadmap” for researchers to navigate their way through the prior literature and to position their work on the frontiers of corporate governance research. The paper is primarily discursive and conceptual.

Findings

The paper encourages broader approaches to corporate governance and accountability research beyond the traditional and primarily quantitative approaches of prior research. Broader theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, accountability mechanism, sectors/contexts, globalisation, and time horizons are identified.

Research limitations/implications

Greater use of qualitative research methods are suggested, which present challenges particularly of access to the “black box” of corporate boardrooms.

Originality/value

Drawing on the analytical framework, and the papers in the special issue, the paper identifies opportunities for further research of accountability and corporate governance.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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