NGOs, civil society and accountability: making the people accountable to capital

Rob Gray, Jan Bebbington, David Collison, Jeffrey Unerman
2006 Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal  
Please do not quote without the authors' permission -but all suggestions will be very gratefully received Abstract Although companies remain subject to calls for more transparency with respect to their various social and environmental impacts, their embracing of corporate social accountability to stakeholders has been lukewarm at best. More recently there have been calls (from companies and other entities) for non-governmental organisations (hereafter NGOs) to be accountable for their
more » ... pacts. Such calls suggest, by implication at least, that NGOs are not currently accountable. This paper explores these issues and, in particular, examines the implications arising from these calls for NGO accountability. The paper is deliberately exploratory and undertakes a degree of ground-clearing in this relatively under-developed area of the accounting literature. The core of the paper has three principal elements. First, the paper examines the nature of the NGO, paying particular attention to the notion of civil society (of which NGOs are a component). Second, the paper explores some of the realpolitik behind calls for NGO accountability, suggesting as a motive, the maintenance of corporate hegemony through the implicit accountability of the demos to capital. Third, the paper examines the contention that whilst it may be self evident that NGOs should be subject to accountability and/or aspire to be accountable organisations simple calls for NGO accountability are misguided. The paper concludes with an exploration of the elements that may comprise an ideal type of NGO accountability and the implications this may have for the accountability of all organisations.
doi:10.1108/09513570610670325 fatcat:27xungyhbrg4vo2r7j4x7646dy