Dominant stakeholders, activity and accountability discharge in the CSO sector

  • Carolyn J. Cordery, Dalice Sim
  • Financial Accountability and Management, October 2017, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/faam.12144

To whom, for what, and how are CSOs accountable?

What is it about?

Despite regulators and prominent stakeholders treating civil society orgnaisations (CSOs) as homogeneous, this paper highlights differences in to whom CSOs across different categories (or types) perceive themselves to be accountable, what for and the different practices they undertake to discharge accountability. It calls for stakeholders to acknowledge diversity in accountability across different CSO types. This survey-based research finds CSOs weight upwards and downwards stakeholders equally, and undertake voluminous reporting. They would benefit from negotiating multiple-use mechanisms, especially with dominant stakeholders. In combining stakeholder and accountability theory, the research highlights specific CSO types needing further study.

Why is it important?

Accountability theory is stymied because it assumes a homogeneity that does not exist. Indeed much research uses single case studies that are useful n locating deep narratives. However, this research uses prior literature and surveys to generalise differences in accountability across different types - charities (5 different classifications) as well as advocacy organisation.


Professor Carolyn J Cordery
Aston University

How do civil society organisations (CSOs) balance stakeholders' demands and their own expectations with the mechanisms that they use to discharge accountability. We attempt to locate that balance for different CSO types and show the need for mechanisms that can speak to multiple stakeholders. These are necessary if CSOs are not to be diverted away from achieving their missions merely to report their achievements.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Carolyn J Cordery