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Responsibility and accountability without direct control?: Local education authorities and the seeking of influence in the UK schools sector


  • Gloria Agyemang


Purpose - This paper seeks to extend understanding of how being responsible and accountable for performance impacts on control processes between organisations. Design/methodology/approach - The paper analyses empirical findings gathered from officers of two local education authorities about their control relationships with schools. It provides a Habermasian theoretically informed analysis of these control relationships. Control is studied as the steering processes that occur between organisations in response to regulation from government. Findings - The LEA officers employ the language of influence to conceal ongoing direct forms of control over schools. As the officers attempt to demonstrate their accountability to the Department of Education and Skills, they use communication and information strategically to steer schools towards their ways of thinking. Research limitations/implications - The paper focuses only on the views of LEA officers. Further research is required to ascertain the views of schools and other stakeholders in local education. Practical implications - Where regulatory bodies demand performance accountability from organisations, appropriate control mechanisms are necessary to ensure that organisations work in transparent ways towards regulatory objectives. Originality/value - Steering, responsibility, accountability and control are discussed in an educational context.

Suggested Citation

  • Gloria Agyemang, 2009. "Responsibility and accountability without direct control?: Local education authorities and the seeking of influence in the UK schools sector," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 22(5), pages 762-788, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:22:y:2009:i:5:p:762-788

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ahrens, Thomas & Chapman, Christopher S., 2006. "Doing qualitative field research in management accounting: Positioning data to contribute to theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 819-841, November.
    2. Olov Olson & Christopher Humphrey & James Guthrie, 2001. "Caught in an evaluatory trap: a dilemma for public services under NPFM," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 505-522.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liv Bente Hannevik Friestad, 2016. "Management control systems and student performance in Norwegian primary education: an exploratory case study," Journal of Management Control: Zeitschrift für Planung und Unternehmenssteuerung, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 323-350, November.
    2. Vassili Joannides & Nicolas Berland & Danture Wickramasinghe, 2010. "Post-Hofstede diversity/cultural studies: what contributions to accounting knowledge?," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-01661685, HAL.


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