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Taking shape within the structural and the personal: sustainability accountability within a Swedish public sector organisation
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. Department of Business Administration. (CEROC)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0916-7889
The University of Sheffield Management School, Sheffield, UK.
Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
2023 (English)In: Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, ISSN 2040-8021, E-ISSN 2040-803X, Vol. 14, no 7, p. 287-312Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: This paper aims to better understand how accountability for sustainability takes shape within organisations and specifically, what makes employees act in a Swedish local authority. This aim moves beyond the prevalent external face of accountability in social and environmental accounting research by observing how employees understand and act upon their multiple accountability demands.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper adopts a single case study approach within a Swedish local authority, drawing from qualitative data including semi-structured interviews, site visits and governing documents.

Findings: Sustainable action is not only the product of hierarchically enforced structural accountabilities and procedures but often must be reconciled with the personal perspectives of the public sector employees involved as part of an accountability dynamic. Additionally, the findings reveal that hierarchical accountability, rather than serving to individualise and isolate employees, acts as a prompt for the more practical and personal reconciliations of accountability with the ethics and experiences of the individual involved.

Practical implications: Greater consideration to employee socialisation processes in public sector organisations should be given to reinforce organisational governance systems and controls, and thus help ensure sustainable behaviour in practice.

Social implications: Employee socialisation processes are important for the development of sustainable practices both within and beyond organisational boundaries.

Originality/value: This study considers the interrelatedness of hierarchical and socialising accountability measures and contributes towards the understanding of the relationship between these two accountability forms, contrary to previous understandings that emphasise their contrasting nature and incompatibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2023. Vol. 14, no 7, p. 287-312
Keywords [en]
Accountability dynamic, Discourse, Public sector, Socialising accountability, Sustainability
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-109365DOI: 10.1108/SAMPJ-08-2022-0450OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-109365DiVA, id: diva2:1806605
Available from: 2023-10-23 Created: 2023-10-23 Last updated: 2023-10-24Bibliographically approved

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Johnstone, Leanne

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