Social Networks, Corruption and Institutions of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability

Phiri, Joseph and Guven-Uslu, Pinar (2019) Social Networks, Corruption and Institutions of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 32 (2). pp. 508-530. ISSN 0951-3574

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate institutions of accountability in Zambia in order to understand how social networks may influence such institutions not to discharge their mandates as expected from time to time. The study equally seeks to explore how social networks may perpetuate corrupt activities and compromise the functioning of institutions of accountability. Design/methodology The conceptual framework adopted in this study draws on insights from social network theory and Bourdieu’s ideas of capital to devise a critical lens for investigating network activity and its influence on the functioning of institutions of accountability. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with respondents drawn from different institutions of accountability. Social network analysis was conducted through content analysis. Findings Research findings highlight the presence of networks of a corrupt nature operating within government structures and some institutions of accountability. Manifested in the form of systemic and familial archetypes, these networks appear to be championed and propelled by senior government officials like Controlling Officers and other actors of a political nature including Ministers and Presidents. Most of these corrupt activities are organised through brokerage mechanisms that interface internal and external networks. Social implications This study helps us to understand that activities of a corrupt nature are often undertaken through well-connected groups and networks that make it difficult for institutions of accountability to detect and untangle such activity. The study also suggests that accountants and other accountability actors may have forgotten that accounting is not just a technical discourse for enhancing one’s economic status but is an ethical profession as well. There is a great need to put institutions in place which should hold everyone, including the President and Ministers, accountable to the Zambian people in the light of wrongdoing. Dismantling the corrupt network activities inferred from the data entails a complete top-down change in systems of politics, governance, wealth distribution and social values. Originality This study contributes towards filling the gap of undertaking accounting research of a critical nature focused on African contexts (Rahaman, 2010). The paper is equally an attempt at providing empirical flesh to Laughlin’s (1991) framework on organisational transformations through complementing that framework with social network theory. The study is also among the first to draw on the experiences and insights of actors working within institutions of accountability to highlight accountability challenges within an African context.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: accountability,corruption,institutions of accountability,social network theory,zambia
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2018 16:31
Last Modified: 15 May 2020 00:13
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/67747
DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-07-2017-3029

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