Accountability of Australian Nonprofit Organisations: Reporting Dilemmas

Flack, Ted & Ryan, Christine M. (2003) Accountability of Australian Nonprofit Organisations: Reporting Dilemmas. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 9(1), pp. 75-88.


As the boundaries between the nonprofit sector, the government and the for-profit sector become blurred, the nonprofit sector is being subjected to pressures to conform to the accountability practices of the other two sectors. The response of nonprofit organisations to these pressures may mean that the sector is in danger of losing some of the attributes that have long been asserted as the special contributions that nonprofit organisations can make to both the delivery of public goods and to a more inclusive and participatory civil society. This paper uses institutional and legitimacy theory as the theoretical lens to examine the disclosures contained in the annual reports of four nonprofit organisations. Using this approach, the paper identifies the ways in which the preparers of these annual reports respond to the pressures to be perceived as more accountable. The research finds support for the view that some nonprofit organisations are responding to the pressure to be more accountable by adopting the for-profit/competitive market approach whilst others are adopting the public accountability practices of the government sector. The paper argues that whilst the adoption of such practices and philosophies might improve perceptions of improved accountability, such practices may have some deleterious effects upon the preparedness of members, supporters, volunteers and donors to participate in institutional environments that are perceived to be professionalised and increasingly technocratic.

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ID Code: 5223
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Nonprofit organisations, charities, annual reports, accountability
ISSN: 1323-6903
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Curtin Business School, C.U.T.
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 12 Oct 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 12:59

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