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Accounting and navigating legitimacy in Tanzanian NGOs

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  • Andrew Goddard
  • Mussa Juma Assad
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    Abstract

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the phenomenon of accounting in non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It seeks to understand accounting processes and reporting practices in NGOs and the conditions that sustain those processes and practices. NGOs have become important institutions in world affairs but accounting research has not developed significant interest in their operations. Design/methodology/approach – The research executes a grounded theory strategy as the principal methodology for the inquiry. Fieldwork was undertaken in three Tanzanian NGOs. Findings – The research established the importance of accounting in the process of navigating organisational legitimacy. This was achieved due to its important role in symbolising organisational competence. Two principal strategies were employed by organisations in navigating legitimacy – building credibility and bargaining for change. Originality/value – The paper makes a contribution to the limited empirical research into accounting in NGOs in developing countries and to grounded theory, accounting research. The principal finding, that in the NGOs studied the primary purpose of accounting was its symbolic use in navigating legitimacy and that it has a minimal role to play in internal decision making, is an important finding for practice as well as for understanding and knowledge. Finally, the paper sheds light on accountability in NGOs by narrating how the phenomenon is constructed and perceived by organisations and stakeholders. Future research should extend our understanding of these phenomena across a broader range of NGOs to incorporate differences in geographical location, religious affiliation and also include Northern donor organisations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 (April)
    Pages: 377-404

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:19:y:2006:i:3:p:377-404

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    Related research

    Keywords: Accounting; Culture; Non-governmental organizations; Regulation; Tanzania;

    References

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    1. Hyman, Eric L. & Dearden, Kirk, 1998. "Comprehensive impact assessment systems for NGO microenterprise development programs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 261-276, February.
    2. Ebrahim, Alnoor, 2003. "Accountability In Practice: Mechanisms for NGOs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 813-829, May.
    3. Lehman, Glen, 1999. "Disclosing new worlds: a role for social and environmental accounting and auditing," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 217-241, April.
    4. Jonsson, Sten & Gronlund, Anders, 1988. "Life with a sub-contractor: New technology and management accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 513-532, August.
    5. Lennox, Clive, 2000. "Do companies successfully engage in opinion-shopping? Evidence from the UK," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 321-337, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Godwin Awio & Deryl Northcott & Stewart Lawrence, 2011. "Social capital and accountability in grass-roots NGOs: The case of the Ugandan community-led HIV/AIDS initiative," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(1), pages 63-92, January.
    2. Vassili Joannidès & Nicolas Berland, 2008. "Reactions to reading “Remaining consistent with method? An analysis of grounded theory research in accounting”: A comment on Gurd," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(3), pages 253-261, September.
    3. Cameron Graham, 2009. "Accounting and subalternity: enlarging a research space," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(3), pages 309-318, April.
    4. Leslie S. Oakes & Joni J. Young, 2008. "Accountability re-examined: evidence from Hull House," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 21(6), pages 765-790, August.
    5. Brendan O'Dwyer & Jeffrey Unerman, 2007. "From functional to social accountability: Transforming the accountability relationship between funders and non-governmental development organisations," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(3), pages 446-471, April.
    6. Berland, Nicolas & Joannides, Vassili, 2008. "Grounded theory : quels usages dans les recherches en contrôle de gestion ?," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/1375, Paris Dauphine University.
    7. O'Dwyer, Brendan & Unerman, Jeffrey, 2008. "The paradox of greater NGO accountability: A case study of Amnesty Ireland," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 801-824.
    8. Joannides, Vassili & Berland, Nicolas, 2008. "Reactions to reading “Remaining consistent with method? An analysis of grounded theory research in accounting”: A comment on Gurd," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/1468, Paris Dauphine University.
    9. Vassili Joannides & Nicolas Berland, 2008. "Reactions to reading “Remaining consistent with method? An analysis of grounded theory research in accounting”: A comment on Gurd," Post-Print halshs-00340178, HAL.
    10. Bruce Gurd, 2008. "Remaining consistent with method? An analysis of grounded theory research in accounting," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(2), pages 122-138, July.
    11. Jeffrey Unerman & Brendan O'Dwyer, 2006. "On James Bond and the importance of NGO accountability," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(3), pages 305-318, April.
    12. Vassili Joannides & N. Berland, 2008. "Grounded theory: quels usages dans les recherches en contrôle de gestion?," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00676580, HAL.

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