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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Gloria Agyemang, Brendan O’Dwyer, Jeffrey Unerman and Mariama Awumbila

The purpose of this paper is to ascertain how upward accountability processes can be enabling in, or constraining to, the effective deployment of development aid funding.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to ascertain how upward accountability processes can be enabling in, or constraining to, the effective deployment of development aid funding.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper derives its primary insights from in-depth interviews and focus groups with non-governmental organization (NGO) fieldworkers working and delivering development aid in Northern Ghana. It analyses inductively the perspectives of fieldworkers to explain their experiences of upward accountability.

Findings

The fieldworkers’ perception of upward accountability was mainly one of external control, in response to which they enacted a skilful form of compliance accountability. This perception of control failed to stifle their initiative and intrinsic commitment to beneficiaries. The fieldworkers craved “conversations for accountability”, in which they had a voice in the development of upward accountability metrics, thereby enabling them to fulfil their sense of felt responsibility to beneficiaries. While aspects of “conversations for accountability” were emerging in fieldworker-funder interactions, it was unclear to what extent funders were committed to further advancing them. Overall, the analysis unveils how felt responsibility mediates for, and partly diminishes, the perceived negative impacts on aid effectiveness of upward accountability processes informed by a focus on control.

Originality/value

The authors examine the potential of upward accountability processes using in-depth analyses of the actual experiences of those involved in delivering NGO services at the grassroots level. The authors contribute to emerging work in this vein by enriching the authors’ understanding of local constituencies’ experiences of accountability processes more generally, especially the impact these mechanisms have on NGO operational activities. The authors also unveil the mediating role fieldworkers’ “felt responsibility” to beneficiaries’ plays in moderating the perceived negative impacts on aid effectiveness of upward accountability processes.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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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

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Book part
Publication date: 27 November 2020

Liafisu Sina Yekini and Kemi C. Yekini

This chapter, which is in themes, starts with a survey of the rise of environmentalism for the purpose of sustainability. It then evaluates the roles of nongovernmental…

Abstract

This chapter, which is in themes, starts with a survey of the rise of environmentalism for the purpose of sustainability. It then evaluates the roles of nongovernmental organisations' (NGOs') self-regulation and government regulation on the need for accountability that ensures sustainability. NGOs' accountability is a way of making sure that stakeholders' social, environmental and economic sustainability are protected and rigorously evaluated. This chapter further examines what the enduring mechanisms should be if true accountability, which leads to sustainability, will be achieved to suggest a holistic accountability that involves downward and upward accountability. In doing so, this chapter utilised the identified five mechanisms that ensure the continuity of world sustainability, which is prima-facie, the objective of funders/donors, beneficiaries/stakeholders and the NGO's loop.

Details

Environmentalism and NGO Accountability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-002-8

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Article
Publication date: 19 March 2018

Astrid Bradford, Belinda Luke and Craig Furneaux

This paper aims to explore social enterprise accountability with respect to their dual social and financial objectives. Drawing on theories of accountability, stakeholders…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore social enterprise accountability with respect to their dual social and financial objectives. Drawing on theories of accountability, stakeholders and institutional logics, this paper examines to whom and how social enterprises are accountable, focusing on the potential differences in accountability where social enterprises have a dominant versus a diversified commercial customer base.

Design/methodology/approach

Case studies on four work integrated social enterprises are analysed. Primary data include interviews with general managers of each social enterprise. Secondary data include social media, websites and internal and external reports.

Findings

Findings reveal accountability is largely influenced by dominant stakeholders (dominant commercial customers and parent organisations). Further, a connection between to whom and how social enterprises are accountable was noted, with formal accountability directed to the main stakeholders of the social enterprises, while less formal types of accountability were directed to less powerful stakeholders.

Originality/value

The integrated nature of the social enterprises facilitated complementarity rather than conflict among their commercial and social logics. While formal accountability was directed to those with power, expectations of these stakeholders ensured social and commercial logics were balanced, highlighting the importance of powerful stakeholders supporting both logics for social enterprises to effectively manage their hybridity. Conclusions consider the importance of social enterprises’ reporting practices.

Details

Social Enterprise Journal, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-8614

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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2019

Natchanont Komutputipong and Prae Keerasuntonpong

Public sector entities face conflicting demands from stakeholders. The literature suggests identifying and prioritizing stakeholders can improve accountability. Thailand…

Abstract

Purpose

Public sector entities face conflicting demands from stakeholders. The literature suggests identifying and prioritizing stakeholders can improve accountability. Thailand, an emerging economy, and currently under military rule, provides an interesting context to investigate stakeholder tensions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how and why the Thai Government bureaucrats prioritize their stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on the managerial branch of stakeholder theory and stakeholder salience theory to examine the importance of various stakeholders and of the stakeholders’ salient attributes perceived by the Thai Government bureaucrats in discharging its accountability. The study uses a survey questionnaire mailed out to the central government departments in Thailand.

Findings

The study finds that single most important stakeholder is the Office of the Auditor-General. The public is perceived as the second. This is dissimilar to the western-centric accountability focus on the public, and challenges claims by the Thai military coup that it will bring democratic rule. “Legal power” supporting the stakeholders’ claims for government accountability is the most influential attribute in determining stakeholder importance and prioritizing attention for government bureaucrat’s discharge of its accountability.

Originality/value

Such findings increase understanding of the applicability of stakeholder theory and stakeholder salience theory in the context of military rule in emerging economy countries such as Thailand. This paper also provides suggestions of how stakeholders may shape their salience in order to gain priority. This also provides an immediate suggestion for reforms of the Thai regulatory frameworks in prioritizing stakeholders and promoting the government’s greater accountability.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2019

Cletus Agyenim-Boateng and Kofi Oduro-Boateng

The purpose of this paper is to investigate disaster accountability process, and it seeks to advocate for involvement of victims as salient stakeholders in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate disaster accountability process, and it seeks to advocate for involvement of victims as salient stakeholders in the accountability process.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopt a case study of the 3rd June, 2015 flood disaster and fire that occurred in Accra, Ghana and draw mainly on interviews, as well as observations and a review of publicly available documents.

Findings

Several actors are involved in disaster management in Ghana. These actors play several roles as part of the disaster management process. Coordination is observed among some governmental actors. However, there is a little collaboration among these actors. There are, therefore, no clear accountability relationships between the actors. Moreover, the forms of accountability process are largely upward and internal. So, although we find the victims as salient stakeholders, their perspectives are not prioritised as part of the accountability process.

Research limitations/implications

As a result of less engagement with victims in the accountability process, a central accountability concern, outcomes, namely, benefits for victims in terms of changes in their knowledge, status, attitudes, values, skills, behaviours or conditions were not promoted. Downward accountability should be encouraged to promote better outcomes.

Originality/value

Although some studies on accounting for disasters have been undertaken, there is none in our local context, and also this study has been able to uncover under-representation of victims in the accountability process using adaptive accountability lens.

Details

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-1168

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2009

Rosario Laratta

The purpose of this paper is to describe two recent investigations of social services nonprofits (SSNs) in Japan and UK shed light on the subject of autonomy in relation…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe two recent investigations of social services nonprofits (SSNs) in Japan and UK shed light on the subject of autonomy in relation to accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

This is effected through an exploration of questions such as: to what extent can we say that SSNs operate “autonomously” in Japan and UK? How do executives in these agencies perceive their own statutory organisation (SO)? To whom exactly are the SSNs accountable? What accountability mechanisms are in effect? How much time do these agencies spend on meeting the requirements of these accountability measures? Do SSN executives consider that accountability demands enhance or inhibit the ability of their organisation to fulfill its mission?

Findings

A close relationship is found between the way in which executive directors view downward accountability demands (accountability to clients or society at large) and the way they perceive SOs. From the discussion of the findings, it became apparent that Japanese executives, who approached downward accountability from its external dimension (i.e. the community at large), appeared to experience a more positive relationship with SOs than their British counterparts, who approached downward accountability almost exclusively from its internal dimension (i.e. in terms of their organisation's users), resulting in their perception of statutory accountability demands as a positive or negative influence on their organisation's mission.

Originality/value

This research makes an important contribution to the understanding of collaborative relations between government and nonprofits, as well as providing meaningful insights in the search for an alternative governance system for the provision of social services under a post welfare‐state regime.

Details

Social Enterprise Journal, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-8614

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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

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2011

Godwin Awio, Deryl Northcott and Stewart Lawrence

This paper aims to examine how small, grass‐roots non‐governmental organisations (NGOs) account for their actions and expenditures and how this accountability is…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine how small, grass‐roots non‐governmental organisations (NGOs) account for their actions and expenditures and how this accountability is discharged to, and benefits, the citizens they serve.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on social capital theory to inform an interpretive analysis of documentary and interview evidence. The empirical material is derived from CHAI policy and project documents, coupled with interviews with 75 participants at the national, district and community levels of the CHAI programme. An illustrative case study is presented of an NGO that delivers welfare services to a Ugandan community affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Findings

The research finds that, by harnessing the attributes of social capital, grass‐roots NGOs can supplement formal accountability obligations to funders with effective “bottom‐upaccountability to an often overlooked NGO stakeholder group – the service beneficiaries, with positive outcomes for social services delivery.

Research limitations/implications

The research examines a single community‐led public welfare initiative (the Ugandan CHAI), with a particular focus on one illustrative grass‐roots NGO within that programme. Nevertheless, it offers insights into how accountability mechanisms can be reconceptualised to suit the context of developing countries where smaller NGOs increasingly operate.

Practical implications

The potential for less formal, “bottom‐upaccountability mechanisms is illustrated using the case of the Ugandan community‐led HIV/AIDS initiative (CHAI), a programme for delivering social services to communities ravaged by the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Originality/value

This research addresses the lack of empirical studies of smaller, grass‐roots NGOs in the accounting literature. It also contributes to the under‐researched area of how NGOs can appropriately discharge their accountability obligations to beneficiaries. The use of social capital theory to inform the study is also a novel contribution of this paper.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 April 2019

Anna-Karin Stockenstrand

The purpose of this paper is to add to our understanding of how external factors such as funding and external accountabilities affect the organisational inner workings…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add to our understanding of how external factors such as funding and external accountabilities affect the organisational inner workings, especially identity issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a comparative case study of two professional chamber orchestras, one in Sweden and one in the UK. The two orchestras had significantly different funding conditions and had different relations with funders and were thus exposed to different kinds of accountability dilemmas. The two organisations were studied using and ethnographically inspired approach. The developments of various parts of the organisations were studied, such as funding, management, strategy, management control and identity issues.

Findings

The paper illustrates how the solution to accountability dilemmas in an organisation can, over time, result in the protection or the dilution of a perceived organisational core and thus in an identity struggle. Especially, management has to deal with the balance between financial and operational accountability, where organisational members could perceive the decisions to be confirming or rejecting what they perceived as being the higher purpose of their work.

Practical implications

This paper may help managers become more aware of the long ranging consequences of managerial decisions and how such decisions may affect the identity orientation of organisational members.

Originality/value

The paper combines the concept of identity with the concept of accountability, something that has not been done to a large extent in previous research.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

Keywords

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