Structures and relationships:
women partners’ careers in
Germany and the UK
School of Management and Business, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK
Purpose – This paper aims to highlight differences in women’s experiences of advancement to
partnership in accountancy firms in Germany and the UK and consider the ways in which such
differences may be constituted by the institutional context in which they occurred.
Design/methodology/approach – This research is based on 60 semi-structured interviews with
women partners in Germany and the UK. Techniques adopted from grounded theory were applied.
Research limitations/implications – This qualitative research is context-specific and given its
cross-national, interdisciplinary nature is limited to the extent that findings cannot be generalised
beyond the studied scope.
Practical implications – The study points to cross-national differences in women’s career
advancement in accountancy firms. The findings support extant research suggesting that structured
performance evaluation and hiring systems – while not without flaws – are likely more
gender-neutral. In addition, the study highlights the potential of headhunters and recruitment agents
as an important tool for women to navigate their way out of career culs-de-sac.
Originality/value – This research provides unique insights into women partners’ experiences of
career advancement and, through its interdisciplinary nature, demonstrates the usefulness of
employing institutional frameworks in qualitative in-depth studies of this kind.
Keywords Women, Partnership, Cross-national, Varieties of capitalism
Paper type Research paper
Rhetoric and argument in social
and environmental reporting:
the Dirty Laundry case
Niamh M. Brennan
Quinn School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, and
Doris M. Merkl-Davies
Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the interactive element in social and environmental
reporting during a controversy between business organisations and a stakeholder over environmental
Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts Aristotle’s triangular framework of the
rhetorical situation to examine how the writer, the audience, and the purpose of communication
interact in the choice of rhetorical strategies used to persuade others of the validity and legitimacy of a
claim during a public controversy. The analysis focuses on the strategies (i.e. moves and their
rhetorical realisations) in the form of logos (appealing to logic), ethos (appealing to authority),
and pathos (appealing to emotion), with a particular emphasis on metaphor, used to achieve social and
political goals. The authors base the analysis on a case study involving a conflict between Greenpeace
and six organisations in the sportswear/fashion industry over wastewater discharge of hazardous
chemicals. The conflict played out in a series of 20 press releases issued by the parties over a
Findings – All six firms interacting with Greenpeace in the form of press releases eventually
conceded to Greenpeace’s demand to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chains. The
paper attributes this to Greenpeace’s ability to harness support from other key stakeholders and to use
rhetoric effectively. Results show the extensive use of rhetoric by all parties.
Originality/value – The authors regard legitimacy construction as reliant on communication and as
being achieved by organisations participating in a dialogue with stakeholders. For this purpose, the
paper develops an analytical framework which situates environmental reporting in a specific
rhetorical situation and links rhetoric, argument, and metaphor.
Keywords Environmental reporting, Stakeholder, Rhetoric, Argument, Greenpeace
Paper type Research paper
Will “austerity” be a critical
juncture in European public
sector financial reporting?
Business School, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, and
Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse how austerity has impacted to date upon European
Union (EU) financial reporting developments and how this might influence future reforms. It considers
how a critical juncture in EU financial reporting might be recognized and factors which might prevent
or delay such a juncture being realized.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses the theoretical conceptualization of the
territorializing, mediating, adjudicating and subjectivizing roles of accounting (Miller and Power, 2013),
linked to document analysis and interviews withmembers of the relevant policy communities. In technical
terms, austerity makes accounting subject to greater demands for consistency and uniformity. In political
terms, accounting is implicated in increasing external fiscal surveillance of sovereign states.
Findings – The authors have shown how the Miller-Power framework illuminates these developments.
The territorializing role of accounting in sovereign states creates an environment which facilitates the
mediating, adjudicating and subjectivizing roles. Austerity promotes re-territorializing, yet also creates
incentives for governments to hide risks and guarantees: the comparability of financial reports and
national accounts may be achieved only at a rhetorical level. Evidence for a critical juncture would be
termination of national traditions of financial reporting, greater harmonization of accounting across tiers
of government, weakening of the linkages to private sector accounting, and stronger alignment of
government financial reporting with statistical accounting.
Originality/value – The paper provides a theoretically based analysis of how austerity influences
government financial reporting and statistical accounting and brings them into closer contact.
This analysis is located within broader tensions between technocracy and democracy that are
institutionalized in EU fiscal surveillance.
Keywords Austerity, Critical juncture, EPSAS, Fiscal transparency, Public sector financial reporting,
Paper type Research paper
Accounting for austerity: the
Troika in the Eurozone
Department of Business Administration,
Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece
Department of Accounting, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
University of Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh, UK, and
Department of Accounting and Finance,
National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the Eurozone financial crisis by
discussing the experiences of Greece, Ireland and Spain. It particularly examines the influence and
actions of the Troika in the management of the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone.
Design/methodology/approach – The primary source of information for this study has been the
documents of the Greek, Irish and Spanish Governments (often only available in their native language)
and the reports of EU bodies and the IMF, supplemented by media coverage, as deemed appropriate.
This has been analysed on a comparative basis to contrast the experiences of these three countries.
Findings – This study reveals how the Eurozone crisis has impacted on financially weak countries in
this currency union. The fiscal conservatism of the Troika (the IMF, the EU and the European Central
Bank) has had profound consequences for these economies, which have experienced dramatic cuts in
Research limitations/implications – This study has focused on the experiences of three countries
in the Eurozone. There is a case for extending this analysis to other Eurozone countries.
Practical implications – There are two approaches to recession – governments can stimulate
demand by infrastructure spending or take the financial conservatism route of reducing public
expenditure and public sector borrowing. However, the severity of the crisis undermines the first
approach and there are uncertain outcomes with the second approach. This paper shows the effects of
adopting financial conservatism as a strategy in this crisis.
Social implications – The austerity programmes pursued by the governments in this study have
led to unemployment, migration of skilled workers, collapse in property markets, failing banks and
Originality/value – This study takes an accounting perspective on the Eurozone crisis. This offers a
distinctive interpretation of events. This study examines the merits of widely used theories in studies
of public sector change namely legitimation and resource dependency theory intertwined with power
and offers insights into how meaningful they are in explaining the dramatic influence of austerity
programmes in the Eurozone.
Keywords Legitimation, Austerity, Power, Eurozone, Resource dependency, Troika
Paper type Research paper
From community to public
ownership: a tale of changing
Carolyn J. Fowler and Carolyn J. Cordery
School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington,
Wellington, New Zealand
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine changes in accountability as the provision and
control of education moved from private nonprofit organisations to a public sector provider.
Design/methodology/approach – Analysis of nineteenth century archival documents from
significant primary educational providers in a major early New Zealand settlement.
Findings – The nonprofit education provider utilised public meetings including public examinations,
whose effect was to develop trust based on the education values it shared with its community of
stakeholders. It also published financial reports which, along with inspections and statistical returns,
were preferred once the government became the education provider. Such publications and inspections
indicated bureaucracy and control. Nevertheless, government funding, rather than the nonprofit
organisation’s dependence on its community, made education provision sustainable.
Research limitations/implications – It has been suggested that the differences between public
sector and private sector accounting and accountability are not always sharply defined (Carnegie and
Napier, 2012). However, this case study shows that a change of education provider did lead to a marked
difference in accountability. While theory suggests that public sector accountability should enhance
democracy, the party best meeting this brief was the nonprofit provider, with the public sector provider
preferring hierarchical accountability. It could be argued that funding dependence drove these
different approaches as community accountability was traded for financial security.
Originality/value – Distinctive study of accountability practices to external stakeholders, in a
mid-nineteenth century education context.
Keywords Education, Accountability, Nonprofit, Public sector