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Charity accountability: evidence from the United Kingdom (UK)

Charity accountability: evidence from the United Kingdom (UK)
Charity accountability: evidence from the United Kingdom (UK)
This thesis examines UK charities’ accountability through the use of annual reports and annual reviews as formal accountability tools. The overall aim of the thesis is to undertake a coherent analysis of the accountability of annual reports and annual reviews using multiple dimensions of text and disclosures by empirically examining UK charities’ accountability disclosure. Given the overall aim, the objectives of this thesis are: first, to assess the effectiveness of narrative communication textual characteristics - specifically chairman’s statements - in the context of the role played by trustees in delivering charity accountability; second, to examine the determinants of the extent of performance disclosures in the top 100 UK fundraising charities; and third, to investigate narratives’ disclosure trends, strategies and rationales in the annual reports by Kids Company to communicate its performance and activities over time and around critical events, until its final collapse and leaders cognitive behavioural traits (e.g., hubris) impact on disclosures. Systematic engagement with the literature surrounding charities’ accountability helps to identify the problems and highlights the knowledge gaps in discharging accountability through public discourse. Three different theoretical frameworks are used to develop and address the research questions of the thesis: stakeholder theory, resource dependence theory, legitimacy theory and hubris. Due to the nature of the research questions and the theoretical framework, the underpinning philosophy for this study is pragmatism. The research outcome of the first paper revealed that charities tend to behave instrumentally when preparing chairman’s statements to cover both bad and good news, but charities still reflect some ethical sense by adopting a felt accountability by prioritising internal accountability. The second paper showed that the overall level of the Performance Disclosure Index (PDI) remains weak with a high emphasis on input and output information and less focus on efficiency, outcome and effectiveness disclosures. Moreover, there have been shifts in the influence of resource providers and stakeholders on the level of charity accountability. The third paper revealed that positive and uncertainty words (frequencies) dominated the narrative disclosures, while more positive performance news was emphasised using hyperbole words. It was found that the charity responded to external concerns either reactively or proactively. Finally, informed by hubris literature, it is indicated that the most common form of hubris found in the CEO statements was overconfidence and attribution of performance to self. Overall, this thesis contributed to the field on a number of different levels - theoretical, methodological and contextual - as well as informing policy and practical implications by providing a multi-layered understanding of the charity accountability phenomenon within the UK context.
University of Southampton
Al Fadhel, Hessa Mubarak
d6bceea7-5099-49de-a9b3-bf4785ee63df
Al Fadhel, Hessa Mubarak
d6bceea7-5099-49de-a9b3-bf4785ee63df
Vithana, Krishanthi
d2a4c2fe-8c7f-4460-bed8-e5d2149ddceb

Al Fadhel, Hessa Mubarak (2018) Charity accountability: evidence from the United Kingdom (UK). University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 239pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis examines UK charities’ accountability through the use of annual reports and annual reviews as formal accountability tools. The overall aim of the thesis is to undertake a coherent analysis of the accountability of annual reports and annual reviews using multiple dimensions of text and disclosures by empirically examining UK charities’ accountability disclosure. Given the overall aim, the objectives of this thesis are: first, to assess the effectiveness of narrative communication textual characteristics - specifically chairman’s statements - in the context of the role played by trustees in delivering charity accountability; second, to examine the determinants of the extent of performance disclosures in the top 100 UK fundraising charities; and third, to investigate narratives’ disclosure trends, strategies and rationales in the annual reports by Kids Company to communicate its performance and activities over time and around critical events, until its final collapse and leaders cognitive behavioural traits (e.g., hubris) impact on disclosures. Systematic engagement with the literature surrounding charities’ accountability helps to identify the problems and highlights the knowledge gaps in discharging accountability through public discourse. Three different theoretical frameworks are used to develop and address the research questions of the thesis: stakeholder theory, resource dependence theory, legitimacy theory and hubris. Due to the nature of the research questions and the theoretical framework, the underpinning philosophy for this study is pragmatism. The research outcome of the first paper revealed that charities tend to behave instrumentally when preparing chairman’s statements to cover both bad and good news, but charities still reflect some ethical sense by adopting a felt accountability by prioritising internal accountability. The second paper showed that the overall level of the Performance Disclosure Index (PDI) remains weak with a high emphasis on input and output information and less focus on efficiency, outcome and effectiveness disclosures. Moreover, there have been shifts in the influence of resource providers and stakeholders on the level of charity accountability. The third paper revealed that positive and uncertainty words (frequencies) dominated the narrative disclosures, while more positive performance news was emphasised using hyperbole words. It was found that the charity responded to external concerns either reactively or proactively. Finally, informed by hubris literature, it is indicated that the most common form of hubris found in the CEO statements was overconfidence and attribution of performance to self. Overall, this thesis contributed to the field on a number of different levels - theoretical, methodological and contextual - as well as informing policy and practical implications by providing a multi-layered understanding of the charity accountability phenomenon within the UK context.

Text
Final thesis - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 28 January 2022.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

More information

Published date: April 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428061
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428061
PURE UUID: bb1b7129-19b0-44cb-b3c8-ba09f6f7c530

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:37

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Contributors

Author: Hessa Mubarak Al Fadhel
Thesis advisor: Krishanthi Vithana

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