ترجمه حسابداری تعهدی و بودجه بندی و پیکر بندی مجدد هویت های حسابداران بخش دولتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|9184||2013||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||12040 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Under the umbrella of New Public Management (NPM) and managerialism, the last three decades have seen a widespread transformation of public sector accounting and budgeting from a cash to an accrual basis. Much of the ensuing research, however, has focused more on technical evaluations of these programmes and less on informing our knowledge of the interaction between such programmes and accountants. As public sector accountants (PSAs) are central entities in such programmes, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the reconfiguration of their identities. Using the theoretical lens of Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) and its concept of translation, this study seeks to explain how PSAs’ identities were transformed through the introduction of Accrual Output-Based Budgeting (AOBB) in two German states. Our analysis shows that the change of accounting regime was not a straightforward one, but rather involved that accountants faced particular challenges responding to several interessement devices that were used to enrol them into the new practices. We link this behaviour to a Weberian facet of the PSAs’ identity, which prevented serious project stagnancy and ‘strategies of total resistance’, but also precluded many accountants from enrolling easily into AOBB, or even developing enthusiasm. The paper suggests that several groups of accountants, rather than one, experienced different challenges in aligning with AOBB and that each assumed their compromises and investments in developing with accrual accounting.
“Our cash accounting goes back to organisational principles of the Prussian State. […] It was tailor-made for the public sector and has worked for centuries. It is a successful model in the public sector. […] As Beamte [i.e. German for civil servants] we have all sworn an oath that we will serve for the good of the nation and that we will honour justice and law. We will therefore support the new system. […] [However], there is a certain scepticism among myself and my colleagues.” (PSA-5) The above thoughts were expressed in an interview with a PSA who has worked with AOBB1 for several years and they indicate that reflections on his occupational tradition make it hard to fully accept it. Taking the perspective of individual PSAs, we contribute to the literature on AOBB which reflects a controversial debate. Several authors argue that the track record of AOBB implementations lags behind expectations (e.g. Lapsley, 2009), and others, such as Carlin (2005) and Groot and Budding (2008), raise a technical debate about the pros and cons of AOBB compared to cash-based accounting and budgeting. Lapsley and Pallot (2000), like Caccia and Steccolini (2006), Horton (2006), and Guthrie (1998), question the underlying reasons for the reforms and point to a limited impact of the reform in practice. However, how the reform poses a challenge for PSAs has not been much explored, nor sufficiently understood. Given this paucity of prior research, we follow an actor-centric view in order to enhance our knowledge of the interaction between AOBB and PSAs and seek to discover common identity patterns among key accounting employees. To this end, we borrow from Callon's (1986) work on the sociology of translation to analyse the introduction of AOBB in two German states, which allows us to examine the effects of the new accounting and budgeting ideas on accountants’ identities. We place particular emphasis on practicing accountants and how their identities were funnelled – sometimes quite problematically – through the obligatory passage point (OPP) of AOBB as it was implemented. Our findings from the two states illustrate that PSAs are not one entity that reacts homogeneously to the reform, but rather that they consist of four different groups which vary according to their reactions towards AOBB. We further demonstrate that these groups have different characteristics and that their age and practical experience with AOBB are conditions of the reconfiguration of their identities. Through our comparative analysis of the two sites, we are further able to discuss the role of devices in securing the enrolment of PSAs into AOBB and outline how these depend on the complexity and the trajectory of each state's reform project. The paper is organised as follows. In the next section, we review the literature on AOBB implementations, look at previous studies that take an identity view on NPM which motivate our study of PSAs’ identities, and present the chosen theoretical framework. The third section describes our research method, and the fourth structures the findings of our empirical study according to the four moments of translation. The fifth section offers a discussion, while the sixth section concludes the paper
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study has set out with the purpose of shedding light on the reasons for divergent and unexpected outcomes of accounting reforms in the public sector given that the extant literature and the predominantly technical perspectives it adopts problematise this insufficiently. In doing so, this study has focused on the interplay between public sector accounting change and individual PSAs. By studying the translation of AOBB in two federal German states, our particular interest lay with the challenges PSAs face when they are to enrol into the reform and the repercussions this has for their identities. This study shows that PSAs have found different ways not to perform their responsibilities to perfection, and we attribute this partly to the long tradition of cash-based accounting and to a strong Weberian civil servant habitual mind-set, which includes following rules and instructions to the letter. While on the one hand this mindset provided for the fact that there was no project stagnancy and that AOBB was not openly resisted (for example in the case of the Lukewarm AOBB Sceptics), it was, on the other hand, this mindset that alienated PSAs regarding AOBB and prevented many from developing enthusiasm or proactivity: as our four identity profiles show, only some of the PSAs came to share the proposed identities uttered by the reform which would have implied becoming motivated, entrepreneurial, and responsible actors of an efficient use of resources and an increased service orientation in the public sector. Even fewer of them integrated AOBB as an opportunity for their personal development. The more sceptical PSAs were reluctant to subscribe to the reform being frustrated by the large amount of additional work and a perception of irrelevance of the AOBB reform. In addition, the PSAs were forced into a very constraining set-up with consultants and auditors who checked their performances, particularly so in the state of Hesse. This illustrates Latour's (1991) point about how certain devices can modify and transform an actor's attitude from a moral obligation (i.e. having to do something that does not come natural) into one where actors surrender to a programme and are “happy” to carry out a task (p. 104). The consultants or the Balanced Scorecards as a mandatory element in Hesse are examples of how several devices were not able achieve such transformation. By and large, we are not able to portray enrolment of accountants as being overly successful even though in Hamburg enrolment among accountants was more successful than in Hesse. For instance, certain PSAs in Hamburg, despite a long exposure to the cameral world, were convinced by the reformers’ reference to the city's tradition of prudent Hanseatic merchants and stated that AOBB may be a more suitable instrument for reducing public spending than cash-based accounting and budgeting. Overall, while we certainly do not seek to make a normative argument about the outcome of the reconfiguration of the PSAs’ identities through the two states’ change programmes (Liguori and Steccolini, 2012), our four identity profiles of the Proven AOBB Accountant, the Ascendant AOBB Accountant, the Lukewarm AOBB Sceptic, and the Outspoken AOBB Sceptic evidence that change was not as initially planned. We propose that the age of the PSAs and their individual experience with AOBB can be important variables to understanding their deviation from prescribed identities and illustrate the continuous change efforts of the reformers to enrol more PSAs into AOBB. Our study offers several contributions to the literature. First, in its major contribution, our study seeks to make visible how PSAs are not one entity that reacts homogeneously to the reform, but rather that they consist of at least four different groups with different responses and characteristics. While several studies hint to this issue for other professional groups in the public sector, our study provides such evidence for public sector accountants where identities were not hybridised but instead, sought to be replaced. Second, we add to an understanding of diverging outcomes to similar accounting change programmes in public sector reform. A recent study, for example, shows that the outcome of two accounting reforms may differ because of organisational level variables such as the dispersion of technical capabilities or the concentration of power (e.g. Liguori and Steccolini, 2012). With our interest in the reconfiguration of the identities of an accounting reform's central stakeholder, our study offers to this literature a perspective of the individual level with an in-depth view of the differing reactions of individual PSAs. Third, by mobilising Actor-Network-Theory and its concept of translation, we demonstrate how and with what effects a number of devices were put into place by the project management in order to achieve increased accountant enrolment into the reform. We thereby highlight the role of devices and their importance in trying to achieve enrolment of a reform's stakeholders. The theoretical implication is that we, in contrast to other studies on accounting change (e.g. Hyndman et al., 2013, Liguori and Steccolini, 2012 and Dent, 1991), emphasise less the importance of existing cultures but more how devices impact the emergence of groups of actors and their reactions to what they see and hear. These reactions were in different ways dealt with in the two states and point to the dynamics between actors and the devices that come to surround them. Fourth, our study suggests that the subscription of PSAs to one of the profiles may change over time, which is evidence of an ongoing reconfiguration that can interrupt, prevent, or disturb a smooth reconfiguration of individuals into the positions constructed by the OPP. Importantly therefore, our results also point to the fact that continuous enrolment efforts by reformers may be necessary to convince stakeholders to subscribe to new reforms; in other words, we derive from our findings also the potential that once enrolled stakeholders may un-enrol from a reform under certain conditions. Lastly, and drawing more on the comparative insights our study offers with its analysis grounded in two different settings, we observed in Hesse that a very ambitious reform concept including for example Balanced Scorecards had to be simplified in order to avoid that the reform situation got out of control. This indicates that PSAs could not be enticed by the promise of a sophisticated new system. Rather, and as seen in Hamburg, the enrolment of PSAs was promoted by simpler concepts and a number of voluntary elements which appeared more accessible to the individual PSAs. Our results also provide evidence for the fact that enrolment was eased by a more positive and reconciling communication in Hamburg. Because we do not know whether AOBB is ‘better’ than cash-based accounting and budgeting we are not sure to be entitled to provide change agents with advice on how to improve the reform. A practical implication from our study is, however, that reformers and policy makers should not consider employees as just one group of people but be more sensitive to identifying differences in sub-groups of organisational entities brought about by individual characteristics. In particular, our study of accounting change in the public sector showed that the age of accountants as well as the level of their practical experience is important in explaining the enrolment of PSAs. In addition, we suggest investing into the design and circulation of devices which can transform actors’ attitude from a moral obligation into one where they become “happy” (Latour, 1991) subscribing to AOBB. In Hesse and Hamburg that has yet to be reached and in that sense the reform is not entirely stabilised or successful. What it would take to make accountants feel “happy” about their responsibilities we do not know, but a close engagement with the different groups and their concerns would be an empathetic effort of reformers, and despite potentially high costs it may in the long run lead to a more stabilised programme of AOBB. That Hesse reduced its ambitions (e.g. regarding the Balanced Scorecard) is just one example of how reformers can ease the burden on various entities by listening to them to secure higher levels of enrolment. All that we are sure of is that in general a programme (like AOBB) only exists as long as the work of gradual enrolment is continued. Unexpected events and problems may occur at any time and have the potential to decrease enrolment. In the accounting change literature it could be warranted to follow, perhaps in an even more systematic way, what kind of solutions, i.e. new smarter devices, can be successful in transforming some moral obligation into one where people become “happy” performing their responsibilities. The study has several potential limitations. One limitation refers to the timing of our study. Naturally, our analysis was limited to a certain timeframe and thus, regarding our identity profiles, we do not make any temporal claims regarding the development of the identity profiles. Second, while we address a topic that has not been much touched upon in previous literature, we have focused on the identity transformation of one accounting reform entity. Even though our empirical approach was open to the influence of other actors in the AOBB network, we cannot preclude that a different focus might have led to different results. As an example, the role of consultants (e.g. Christensen and Skærbæk, 2010), the role of politicians (e.g. Liguori et al., 2012 and Liguori et al., 2009), or the audit court might be underemphasised in our study, and further research could stress these more to yield interesting insights. A third limitation concerns the identity profiles reported in this study. Naturally, the emergence of these profiles is contingent upon the empirical context. While we have sought to validate their occurrence by using various data sources and interviewees, we do not argue that these are the only identity profiles that exist. We want to stress that at least four profiles exist but that there may well be further profiles or sub-profiles in addition to the ones we propose.