Unveiling the Role of Identity Accountability in Charity Outcome Measurement Practices

Yang, C
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Auckland Regional Accounting (ARA)

The purpose of this study is to examine the role of identity accountability in charity outcome measurement (OM) practices. The paper employs neo-institutional sociology - institutional work concepts, and policy-practice and means-ends decoupling - to examine how charity actors engage in their OM practices and what challenges they face in these practices. The empirical evidence includes semi-structured interviews and document analysis with twenty-two internal actors (staff members and managers) of two New Zealand case study charities in order to understand their perceptions and experiences of OM practices. The findings reveal that both charities’ actors employ a variety of OM mechanisms to create and maintain OM norms and practices; they also develop reflexive awareness of identity accountability in their OM practices. However, they also face a number of practical challenges and struggle to balance their upward accountability to funders and identity accountability to organizational mission. Both policy-practice and means-ends decoupling are used as means to cope with these challenges.

Identity accountability; Outcome measurement; Charities; Reflexivity; Unintended consequences
Presented at the Auckland Regional Accounting Conference, 22 November 2016, Auckland, New Zealand.
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