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Institutionalising multiple accountability logics in public services: Insights from Australia

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  • Rana, Tarek
  • Hoque, Zahirul

Abstract

This paper reports on a field study of how a range of inter-institutional and inter-organisational forces shape the evolving rhetoric and practice of multiple accountabilities in public services. Drawing on the institutional logics perspective, we carried out a qualitative field study in the Australian Commonwealth Public Service involving semi-structured interviews, two focus group discussions, and the examination of internal accounting, management reports, and government archival records. The findings suggest that emphasis on conventional instrumental mechanisms and reporting tools, such as budgeting and accrual-based reporting, support managerial (instrumental) accountability through compliance logics. We conclude that an emphasis on public (relational) accountability through public dialogue is central to the public sector accountability debate, and that more attention needs to be paid to the question of how to balance the dual logics (instrumental and relational) in public services. The findings provide practical insights for public sector managers, policymakers and governments responsible for designing and implementing reforms, accounting tools, and accountability practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Rana, Tarek & Hoque, Zahirul, 2020. "Institutionalising multiple accountability logics in public services: Insights from Australia," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:bracre:v:52:y:2020:i:4:s0890838920300391
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bar.2020.100919
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