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Accounting and the move to privatize water services in Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Abu Shiraz Rahaman
  • Jeff Everett
  • Dean Neu

Abstract

Purpose - Using the recent attempts by the Ghanaian Government to privatize its urban water services, this paper seeks to understand the role and functioning of accounting within the global move to “reinvent government.” Design/methodology/approach - Unlike the attempts made in other African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, the case of Ghana is interesting because of the vociferousness and length of the debate that has been going on. Using Bourdieu's notion of field and capital and Foucault's idea of governmentality, and relying on a variety of archival documents and interviews with 27 key participants, the study examines the positioning of accounting practices, vocabulary and experts in this debate. Findings - The study shows how accounting is enlisted at an almost sub-conscious level, how its use can engender significant resistance and how accounting can be used to position the debate in various terms, including “profitability” “affordability” and “accountability.” Research limitations/implications - The paper shows that within new democracies such as Ghana policy-making requires the enlistment of technologies of government – including accounting – to articulate and justify divergent policy options. Practical implications - The findings of the paper have implications for regional policy-makers and their various development partners. Originality/value - Researchers and practitioners working in the area of public sector management and reforms should find significant value in the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Abu Shiraz Rahaman & Jeff Everett & Dean Neu, 2007. "Accounting and the move to privatize water services in Africa," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(5), pages 637-670, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:20:y:2007:i:5:p:637-670
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    4. Crvelin, David & Becker, Albrecht, 2020. "‘The spirits that we summoned’: A study on how the ‘governed’ make accounting their own in the context of market-making programs in Nepal," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    5. Hopper, Trevor & Lassou, Philippe & Soobaroyen, Teerooven, 2017. "Globalisation, accounting and developing countries," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 125-148.
    6. Abu Shiraz Rahaman, 2009. "Independent financial auditing and the crusade against government sector financial mismanagement in Ghana," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(4), pages 224-246, October.
    7. Bertrand Malsch & Yves Gendron & Frédérique Grazzini, 2011. "Investigating interdisciplinary translations: The influence of Pierre Bourdieu on accounting literature," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(2), pages 194-228, February.
    8. Vincenzo Torretta & Fabio Conti & Matteo Leonardi & Gianluca Ruggieri, 2012. "Energy Recovery from Sludge and Sustainable Development: A Tanzanian Case Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(10), pages 1-12, October.
    9. Robert Jupe, 2009. "New Labour, Network Rail and the third way," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(5), pages 709-735, June.
    10. Spence, Laura J. & Rinaldi, Leonardo, 2014. "Governmentality in accounting and accountability: A case study of embedding sustainability in a supply chain," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 433-452.
    11. Kraus, Kalle & Kennergren, Cecilia & von Unge, Amelie, 2017. "The interplay between ideological control and formal management control systems – A case study of a non-governmental organisation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 42-59.
    12. Robert Ochoki Nyamori, 2009. "Construction and effects of markets in a local authority in New Zealand," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(7), pages 1055-1086, September.
    13. Constable, Philip & Kuasirikun, Nooch, 2020. "From cosmological to commercial form: A Buddhist theory of ‘form’, ‘space’ and ‘stream of re-becoming’ in mid-19th century Thai accounting," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    14. Jupe, Robert, 2009. "A “fresh start” or the “worst of all worlds”? A critical financial analysis of the performance and regulation of Network Rail in Britain’s privatised railway system," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 175-204.
    15. Thomson, Ian & Grubnic, Suzana & Georgakopoulos, Georgios, 2014. "Exploring accounting-sustainability hybridisation in the UK public sector," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 453-476.
    16. Rahaman, Abu Shiraz, 2010. "Critical accounting research in Africa: Whence and whither," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 420-427.
    17. Josiah, Jairos & Burton, Bruce & Gallhofer, Sonja & Haslam, Jim, 2010. "Accounting for privatisation in Africa? Reflections from a critical interdisciplinary perspective," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 374-389.

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