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Government accounting reforms in Sub-Saharan African countries and the selective ignorance of the epistemic community: A competing logics perspective

Government accounting reforms in Sub-Saharan African countries and the selective ignorance of the epistemic community: A competing logics perspective
Government accounting reforms in Sub-Saharan African countries and the selective ignorance of the epistemic community: A competing logics perspective
The objective of this paper is two-fold. First, it assesses existing local accounting and financial reporting practices in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), focusing on the extent to which recent government financial statements published by ten selected countries adhere to mainstream qualitative features of public sector reporting. Second, it investigates the multiple institutional logics at play in the context of government accounting reforms (GARs) in SSA, involving international organisations, epistemic community members, policy makers and local actors. Data for the study are drawn from a content analysis and disclosure scoring of ten SSA government financial statements, supplemented by forty semi-structured interviews carried out in Nigeria and Tanzania. Our findings demonstrate how the generalised assumptive logics of international organisations, coupled with the market and professional logics of epistemic community members and state logics of local politicians, have led to the marginalisation of ‘good’ existing accounting and financial reporting practice in SSA (as reflected by the extent to which government financial statements adhere to mainstream features of public sector reporting) - while providing the countries with a strong impetus for undertaking a transition towards large-scale GARs involving accrual accounting and IPSASs. The role of the epistemic community in selectively ignoring the positive aspects of local accounting practice is a significant impediment. In this way, members of this epistemic community continue to execute their ‘relational power’ generated through professional knowledge, expertise and elite connections over the local actors, hence upholding the generalised assumptive logics. The paper argues that public accountability and transparency can be strengthened in SSA countries provided there is an ‘intelligent’ application of existing regulations and accounting systems, rather than seeking to merely replace them with externally imposed large-scale GARs.
Epistemic community, Government accounting reforms, Institutional logics, Sub-Sahara Africa
1045-2354
Jayasinghe, Kelum
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Adhikari, Pawan
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Soobaroyen, Teerooven
e1ab4cd3-4449-44dd-920b-b750056cda9a
Wynne, Andy
c3777713-a89e-4a55-935c-86590e59d8db
Malagila, John
cc93732f-b2bd-49c9-843e-4a6039b4124c
Abdurafiu, Noah
ba61cf80-834e-4c6d-bec1-88387a0de37f
Jayasinghe, Kelum
df7b5279-7569-49f7-8976-ade0d91843b1
Adhikari, Pawan
4f9721b5-7181-42f1-ae8b-3a55bf8c1b54
Soobaroyen, Teerooven
e1ab4cd3-4449-44dd-920b-b750056cda9a
Wynne, Andy
c3777713-a89e-4a55-935c-86590e59d8db
Malagila, John
cc93732f-b2bd-49c9-843e-4a6039b4124c
Abdurafiu, Noah
ba61cf80-834e-4c6d-bec1-88387a0de37f

Jayasinghe, Kelum, Adhikari, Pawan, Soobaroyen, Teerooven, Wynne, Andy, Malagila, John and Abdurafiu, Noah (2020) Government accounting reforms in Sub-Saharan African countries and the selective ignorance of the epistemic community: A competing logics perspective. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 0, [102246]. (doi:10.1016/j.cpa.2020.102246).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The objective of this paper is two-fold. First, it assesses existing local accounting and financial reporting practices in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), focusing on the extent to which recent government financial statements published by ten selected countries adhere to mainstream qualitative features of public sector reporting. Second, it investigates the multiple institutional logics at play in the context of government accounting reforms (GARs) in SSA, involving international organisations, epistemic community members, policy makers and local actors. Data for the study are drawn from a content analysis and disclosure scoring of ten SSA government financial statements, supplemented by forty semi-structured interviews carried out in Nigeria and Tanzania. Our findings demonstrate how the generalised assumptive logics of international organisations, coupled with the market and professional logics of epistemic community members and state logics of local politicians, have led to the marginalisation of ‘good’ existing accounting and financial reporting practice in SSA (as reflected by the extent to which government financial statements adhere to mainstream features of public sector reporting) - while providing the countries with a strong impetus for undertaking a transition towards large-scale GARs involving accrual accounting and IPSASs. The role of the epistemic community in selectively ignoring the positive aspects of local accounting practice is a significant impediment. In this way, members of this epistemic community continue to execute their ‘relational power’ generated through professional knowledge, expertise and elite connections over the local actors, hence upholding the generalised assumptive logics. The paper argues that public accountability and transparency can be strengthened in SSA countries provided there is an ‘intelligent’ application of existing regulations and accounting systems, rather than seeking to merely replace them with externally imposed large-scale GARs.

Text
2020 10th Sept-Full- CPA Final Manuscript_JMalagila - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 7 March 2022.
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 6 September 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 October 2020
Keywords: Epistemic community, Government accounting reforms, Institutional logics, Sub-Sahara Africa

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 443972
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/443972
ISSN: 1045-2354
PURE UUID: ca072daf-883f-4037-a88b-b8cb2a120782
ORCID for John Malagila: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5327-2286

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 18 Sep 2020 16:31
Last modified: 05 Mar 2021 02:40

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Contributors

Author: Kelum Jayasinghe
Author: Pawan Adhikari
Author: Teerooven Soobaroyen
Author: Andy Wynne
Author: John Malagila ORCID iD
Author: Noah Abdurafiu

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